By now, you probably know Brianna Graves. The Slaton seventh grader who suffers from a rare illness that literally dissolves her bones. She went through a rough time this past spring, and we nearly lost her. We shared the story of her remarkable comeback during our Children's Miracle Network broadcast earlier this month. We want to tell that story again because a special concert in Lubbock on Friday night is what turned out to be just the medicine Brianna needed most.
"We had some dark days where she didn't want to get out of bed, when she didn't want to fight," says Brianna's mother, Lori Graves.
"Being in the hospital day after day, not getting up and being with friends really takes its toll. She was getting very severely depressed," says Dr. Waagner.
"I think it's been the lowest point in this whole time. We've been fighting this for five years," says Lori Graves.
"In the spring, she developed bad Pneumonia," says Dr. Waagner.
"She had five chest tubes put in three months and was to the point of whatever, I don't care no more," says Brianna's father, Ty Graves.
"We told her Bri, there's a life out there," says Lori Graves.
"I was tired of the hospital. There are just so many things I haven't got to do, and I don't want to die and not have been able to do those things," says Brianna Graves.
"When Brianna heard about (the Britney Spears concert), we became an all points alert. How do we get tickets? We had a dozen different scouts out for tickets," says Dr. Waagner.
That's when the President of the Health Sciences Center came into the prescription. Dr. David Smith, who had been recently named Chancellor of the university system, called Brianna into his office to give her three box seat tickets to the sold out Britney Spears concert, along with a lab coat and an offer like no other.
"Now, did I tell you my job's open here. This is the office. So, if you want to apply for president, put your application in. You look pretty good in (a lab coat)," says Dr. David Smith.
So, while Brianna waits for that concert, she has turned her life around. She went back to Slaton to finish the seventh grade, and she seemed to enjoy being the only girl in a class of 14 boys.
"I keep them in line," says Brianna.
She's really trying to gain some weight after sinking to just 76 pounds this spring. Brianna knows she will always deal with Gorham's Disease, a rare condition in which the bones vanish. Her collar bone disappeared first. Her neck has been reinforced with steel rods. Since her diagnosis at age nine, she has endured 21 surgeries, and lived, and slept with a halo attached to her head for 18 months. And now, despite that low point this spring, she has her fighting spirit back again.
"There's no question that Brianna is a miracle child. Her positive attitude. She's beaten the odds. She's got more lives than a cat. I wish all our patients had as much determination as Brianna does," says Dr. Waagner.
Brianna told me on Thursday that she has a new hippie shirt for the concert on Friday, and she's ready to rock -- and another thoughtful gesture on Thursday from Texas Tech. The President's office called and offered Brianna's mom a VIP pass so they can also enjoy front row parking.