Locals benefit from Cancer Freeze

Published 2:10 am Friday, January 18, 2019

Two Covington County residents are among the six people who will benefit from the 13th annual Cancer Freeze.

Andalusia resident Kimberly Sasser and Opp resident Malcolm Dakota “Dee” Brundidge will benefit from the annual fundraiser.

Sasser, a wife and mother of two small children, was diagnosed with breast cancer in July.

“July 18, 2018 – a day that will forever be seared in my brain. On this day I was told ‘the tumor is cancerous,’ ” she said, recalling the day she got the report of her first biopsy. “Only moments before, my husband and I were sitting in this same room cutting up and joking with each other. The only concern we had was where we were going to eat lunch. There was no way I had cancer, we thought.”

Sasser said she was “gobsmacked” by the news, and cried all the way home.

After a follow-up week at MD Anderson, it was determined that she had one tumor 2.5 cm on the right axillary (underarm area) that was cancerous. One lymph node tested positive.

“The carcinoma that was present was very aggressive and spreading fairly rapidly,” she said. “It was being fed by Estrogen and Progesterone which I produce at a high rate because of my age.”

Even though others in her family, including her mom, have death with breast cancer, experts determined her cancer was not due to a genetic mutation.

After meeting with three different oncologists, it was determined Sasser’s treatment needed to be the most aggressive. It included four rounds of chemo, the removal of the tumor, Adriamycin Cytoxan- dose dense (every 2 weeks instead of every 3 weeks), 12 weeks of a second chemo, and a month of radiation.

Chemo began on August 26th.

“WOW! I was NOT prepared,” she said. “The next eight weeks were the hardest weeks, days, and moments of my life! I was SICK – oh so sick! Almost every second of every day was shear agony. But PRAISE GOD it did not last!”

The chemo was effective, and the tumor had shrunk by the time she had a lumpectomy. However, there were positive lymph nodes.

She will complete her 12th round of Taxol at the end of February.

“To say the past five months have been life-changing would be an understatement,” she said. “It has been a hurricane of emotions, feelings, thoughts, actions, and information. For most of my life, I have been a fairly fearful person. Very fearful, actually. I have allowed fear to control me. As a child of God I know this is not what He wants for His children and I have tried to conquer this spirit of fear but with no avail. Fortunately, He does not give up on His children! I am always amazed at how He can transform a person or situation for the better. After the initial shock of ‘holy cow I have cancer, I could die,’ a peace that I know I did not muster up has been with me every step of this journey.”

Sasser said she and her family have been overwhelmed with love and support from friends, family, community and complete strangers.

“I will never be able to thank everyone as they should be,” she said. “I have had the privilege of experiencing such genuine love and giving and it has forever left a mark on my heart.”


Brundidge has been fighting brain cancer since he was 18 months old. Doctors performed emergency surgery to remove a new brain tumor last spring ago, and his family learned the cancer has spread to his kidneys and lungs.

He is currently hospitalized in Birmingham, where he has been undergoing treatment.

His mom, Holley Brundidge, said there have been many side effects from the chemo that saved his live when he was a little boy.

But last spring, she said, he began complaining of very bad headaches.

“I brushed it off as allergies and treated him at home but, day in and day out, he would hurt in his temples and nothing eased the pain,”she said. “I took him to his local doctor Dr Bhagwan Bang that has always been wonderful. We did Nasonex and other allergy meds because pollen was rough during this time.”

Brundidge said she didn’t do the “helicopter mom” routine, but eventually, Dr. Bang ordered a CT when a soft lump appeared at the old surgery site. It appeared at first to be a fluid-filled cyst. However, by May, he was experiencing blurred vision.

“On Monday, May 14, 2018, Dee slept late and when he got up he said ‘Mama I see 20 fingers.”

By t he end of the day, Dr. Bang had the family in Birmingham, where they met with Dr. Jeffery Blount, who had done Dee’s previous brain surgeries.

“He came in after tests and labs and told us he needed emergency brain surgery, he had a tumor that had grown through his skull causing the small lump on his head but, it also grew through the sinus cavity in the top of his head ( re-routing blood flow) and is growing along the vagus nerve.”

Dee immediately had a nine-hour brain surgery on May 15.

It took a month for experts to agree on the kind of cancer he had. The cancer, described as “angry-looking and extremely aggressive” continued to grow. It was determined another brain surgery was too dangerous, so he was prescribed a chemo combo to slow the grown.

Post-surgery, Dee experienced high blood pressure, which led to an ultrasound and CT of his kidneys, where doctors discovered more tumors.

“They told us to imagine a bag of marbles in various sizes, well that’s how his kidneys looked.”

He was diagnosed with Renal Cell Carcinoma, then a PET scan revealed two spots on his lungs.

“I’m in shock and they are too,” Brundidge said. “They say it isn’t documented anywhere someone having these two separate cancers in their body at the same time so we must make up a treatment plan as we go, and that’s currently what we are doing, trial and error.”

When he finishes chemo for the brain cancer, the tumors in his lung will be removed, hopefully in February or March.

“So we currently are just watching the lung while we treat the brain, but the kidneys constantly give us trouble (they don’t filter the chemo and toxins fast enough beating them up severely) so it slows the whole process down,” she said.

His care plan has been updated, with more chemo planned after the lung surgery. Then, “if we have killed the Osteosarcoma in his brain, we will have to remove both kidneys and have a kidney transplant, that’s the normal procedure/treatment for Renal Cell Carcinoma,” his mom said.

“But to be able to get a transplant he must be free of cancer anywhere else in his body and off chemo or the transplant would not be successful. So we will be looking at needing a kidney and have been told because the brain cancer, we can not be on a donor list for at least five years, so we must find our son a kidney match.

Now 19, Dee has been very sick from the chemo.

“Dee tells me ‘Mom, God’s got this,’ and as bad as it hurts to see my son go through this his whole life, I also have a peace knowing Dee is right, God does ‘got this.’

“They tell me all the time how Dee is amazing and is a miracle and even though he has an extremely rare and very difficult diagnosis he is so strong and resilient and amazing,” she said. “As his mother and caregiver he keeps me held together, strong and uplifted. He has five other siblings (four in house). Myself and my husband are currently not working while Dee takes chemo weekly and because his kidneys constantly ‘act up.’ Dee needing us is more important than anything right now.”

Other Cancer Freeze recipients include Christy Brunson from Baker, Fla., a breast cancer patient; Brandy Baggett of Crestview, also a breast cancer patient;  Andrea Delgadillo, a 17-year-old junior at South Walton Hgih School, who has acute myeloid leukemia; and Jaylen Burnice of Enterprise, who has a rare lymphoma.

Cancer Freeze fundraising occurs almost year-round, but the annual event – which includes a 5K walk and run, car show, water sports and auction – is set for Sat., Feb. 2, at Florala’s Lake Jackson.