DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - Diagnosed with a tumor at two years old, since then the now 17 year old has had almost a dozen surgeries. Doctors have never been able to remove the entire mass. Next month, nine doctors will attempt a day long surgery, to do just that. It's a scary process for the family, but the whole community is offering their support.
Bradly Defelice moved to Denham Springs just a few months ago. Before, he and his family lived in Houma. While there, he stopped attending public school and a teacher began making house calls - all because he was tired of being teased about the way he looks.
"They would say 'What happened? You got knocked out?' Even grown people would say that," said Bradley's mom, Heidi.
Heidi Defelice says when her son was born, they found something called a black mass. When Bradly turned two, doctors told them it was a tumor. That's when he had his first surgery to remove some of the tumor. Heidi says doctors have been scared to remove the whole mass.
"It's called neurofibromatosis. What it is is a tumor that, it's in the brain and it's in the eye. The tumor grows like a spider web, so it's all in his nerves and brain. His eye right now, it's wrapped around the main artery of the eye," said Defelice.
June 4, 2014 will be Bradly's tenth surgery. This time, doctors will attempt to remove the eye the tumor is wrapped around as well as the entire mass. They are hoping to stop its growth before it spreads to his right eye.
"The plastic surgeon, which is the last doctor, doesn't plan on getting in there until seven or eight that night," Defelice said. "It's a long day."
Surgery is scheduled to start at 5:00 a.m.
"The tumor can kill him or the surgery can. Or the way we look at it, God's hand is all over him. He's going to be alright."
When the family moved to Denham Springs, Heidi Defelice found a job waitressing at Randazzo's Italian Market, on Capitol Street. The restaurant prides itself in serving authentic Italian food. Antonio Randazzo, one of the owners, is from Sicily. He makes the bread and all the pasta the restaurant uses fresh everyday.
Defelice never mentioned to the owners that she had a son at home with a serious illness. But when Randazzo's wife, Kyla, found out she felt compelled to help.
Most of the dishes at the restaurant are named after family members. But now the owner's have added Bradly's name in.
On Tuesday, May 20 and Wednesday, May 21 the restaurant is offering family pack take home meals of two of their specialities - spaghetti and meatballs or lasagna. Orders need to be called in ahead of time. But the proceeds will go to the Defelice's, to cover what the family's insurance does not.
During our interview, Bradly was a man of few words. But the one thing his mom says he has said over and over, his one wish it to look normal.
"We're praying it works," said Defelice.