Gunnar Bradshaw is back on his feet and has returned to college to complete his studies as a senior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The Winter Garden man was forced to take a break last year when his knee pain — thought to be caused by extensive baseball playing — was, in fact, osteosarcoma.
Bradshaw, 21, endured 10 weeks of chemotherapy before heading into surgery to remove his knee and eight inches of his femur and replace them with an implant.
This was followed by 19 more weeks of chemotherapy. He had to put school on hold while he spent two to six days at a time in the hospital at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville.
On Jan. 15 at the hospital, Bradshaw rang the liminal bell, a ceremonial bell that symbolizes a patient’s transition into a life without cancer.
He will continue rehabilitation to gain strength in his leg, and he returns every three months for the first two years for scans. After that, he will go back for a checkup every six months.
Bradshaw returned to Embry-Riddle about a month ago. He is attending on a baseball scholarship.
“It has been mentally and physically challenging, but he is excited to be back in classroom, as well as back with his baseball team,” Staci Bradshaw, his mother, said. “He wants to finish his business degree and pursue a career possibly in finance.”
Support for Ronnie and Staci’s family has been constant since their son was diagnosed with cancer.
“The entire West Orange community, and even beyond, showed so much support that it absolutely humbled the entire family,” Staci Bradshaw said.
Neighbors took meals to the house. Fundraisers were held in multiple restaurants, including The Tasting Room, Casa Jimenez, The Big Easy and Crooked Can. Family friends organized tournaments, and Gunnar’s friends shaved their heads in support. A GoFundMe account was set up to raise funds to go toward medical bills.
The family received a donation from the Jimmy Crabtree Cancer Fund, as well.
“We are overwhelmed by the support,” Staci Bradshaw said.
At Embry-Riddle, Bradshaw’s coach added a yellow ribbon to the back of the team jerseys. At West Orange High School, Bradshaw’s alma mater, baseball coach Jesse Marlow added his initials and the No. 39 to this year’s baseball caps.