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Boy Battling ‘Bully’ Brain Tumor Lives Marine Biology Dreams

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Twin Cities boy who’s dealing with a life-threatening brain tumor is getting the chance to live his dream of becoming a marine biologist.

Gavin Pierson got rare, behind-the-scenes access at SEA LIFE at the Mall of America. He and his family spent time at the aquarium’s kitchen and holding tanks, giving this six year old a glimpse of work yet to come.

Gavin’s main thrill was spending time with his favorite of all sea creatures, the sea turtle.

“I never saw a real one in real life,” Gavin said.

For his parents – Steve and Nicole Pierson – a visit to the aquarium is a measure of progress made.

“It’s awesome,” Steve said. “I got my son back.”

In January, Gavin was in the hospital healing from his fifth surgery to slow a fast growing brain tumor – which the family has nicknamed “Joe Bully.”

“It was just so sad to see him not enjoy his life like he used to,” Nicole said.

His parents’ only hope for recovery is a clinical trial of a drug that could stop the growth and possibly even shrink his tumor.

“One day in February, it was Feb. 10 or something, it was like a switch flipped and all of a sudden Gavin was Gavin,” she said.

Two small pills a day now mean the difference between the hospital and a normal life.

“It’s kind of like you feel like you have your kid’s life back again,” she said. “You can plan the future, not just plan for today.”

There are still small setbacks, but Gavin has always been one to push forward.

“To a kid, anything is possible,” Gavin said.

In addition to the experimental drug, there is a new non-invasive procedure that could cure Gavin’s rare tumor.

Children’s Hospital and Clinics are raising money for a new fiber optic laser that would heat and kill the tumor. It costs $400,000.

If you’d like to help, click here.

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