Jackson Grant, 15, holds up a copy of his book — inspired by his medical travails as he lives with a benign but inoperable brain tumor.

Jackson Grant is helping others after figuring out how to help himself.

Five years ago, the now 15-year-old South Pasadena resident was diagnosed with a benign but inoperable brain tumor.

Since then, he’s had 31 MRIs and two surgeries to deal with the situation, and he’s been in an MRI tube so many times that he now calls it a “donut.’’

Hence the name of his book, “The Donut That Roared’’ — which he co-authored with his aunt, Joan Yordy Brasher. The book is currently on display at the South Pas Library.

Jackson has used his journaling skills to record thoughts about his medical odyssey, which began with severe headaches. The situation grew more alarming when a tumor, called an astrocytoma, was found on his brain.

The benign tumor, the size of a jelly bean, is too deeply situated in the brain to remove, and he continues to have MRIs to monitor it. He also has had two surgeries to relieve fluid build-up on the brain. Prior to the surgery, the fluid build-up would force him to throw up.

“I was devastated,’’ recalled his mother, Jean Grant. “It was the scariest thing that I could ever feel.’’

Jackson Grant (center) with his mom Jean (left) and aunt Joan Yordy Brasher. His aunt helped Jackson write “The Donut that Roared,’’ and illustrated the book as well. Photos by Henk Friezer

Jackson, however, was curious about his new situation.

“I remember hearing the name ‘MRI’ in the movie ‘Madagascar,’ ’’ he recalled. “I was ready to go and experience it for myself.

“The MRI sounds like a jackhammer. The beep keeps getting faster until it is a solid beep.’’

Jackson said that his 10-year-old self thought that bad things happened to bad people.

“I thought there was a bad person in my head and the docs were the police who came to get it out,’’ he said.

He began developing methods of dealing with putting almost his entire body in that noisy tube. He became determined to help others after seeing another youngster crying and struggling at the thought of the MRI.

“This is my way of helping kids out,’’ he said. “I looked at him and said, ‘I want to help kids. My vision is coming together.’ ’’ 

“The Donut That Roared’’ is a children’s storybook about an inventive boy who uses imagination to cope with, and befriend, an obnoxious, noisy donut.

Jackson Grant, 15, holds up a copy of his book — inspired by his medical travails as he lives with a benign but inoperable brain tumor.

Brasher, Grant’s aunt who works at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., co-wrote and illustrated the book, which is designed to inspire the 11,000 pediatric patients in America facing an MRI scan every day.

Jackson’s tips for coping are included, along with tools and resources.

Some of Jackson’s tips include wearing funny socks that stick out of the end of the tube; practicing breathing exercises to stay calm; creating dance moves to show after he finishes each scan; and, finally, establishing a family tradition of going to Tommy’s Original burger place for chili fries.

The book is self-published and available at donutthatroared.com.

The South Pasadena Public Library received a grant from the American Society of Radiologic Technologists to purchase and display materials, including Jackson’s book, on the topic. The books are currently on display at the front of the library. The society this month selected Jackson’s book to be featured in a partnership that will have displays in 250 libraries across the country.

Since being diagnosed, Jackson won a Make-A-Wish trip to New Zealand.

What did he do? 

He bungee-jumped head-first off a bridge.

Andy Lippman
Author

A former Los Angeles bureau chief for the Associated Press, Lippman writes weekly about some South Pasadena person, business, issue or trend.

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