CBSN

6-year-old's growth spurt caused by brain tumor

Six-year-old Bryce Aswell towers over classmates at his kindergarten in Fort Worth, Texas -- and he eats like a teenage boy.

"He's 4'7", almost 90 pounds. We just thought it was the genes of her family," dad Bradley Aswell said pointing to his wife, Amanda. "I just thought he was a big boy."

But CBS DFW reports, two months ago the couple learned what was really behind Bryce's growth spurt: a brain tumor. "And she broke down," recalls Bradley as he talked about the phone call that turned their lives upside down.

Bryce was diagnosed with a type of tumor called an optic pathway glioma. Doctors say it's inoperable. The good news is that most often the tumors are benign.

"They did tell us though," says Amanda with a heavyhearted pause, "if it is malignant, if it is fast growing... there is nothing they can do."

The biopsy is scheduled for next week.

"We've explained to him what they're going to do for the biopsy," Bradley said. "He's like, 'It's okay...I'm not going to feel it right?' No, buddy, you're going to be asleep. 'Okay.' He's like nonchalant! That's what I base my strength on."

Bryce is not in any pain, but the tumor is impacting his vision and has sent him into early puberty as it engulfs his pituitary gland.

A 15-month course of chemotherapy is planned to try to shrink the tumor until Bryce is old enough to undergo radiation treatments.

The Aswells, who are also raising a young niece and nephew, say the ordeal has brought them closer.

"He says, 'Mommy why are you crying?' And I say, 'Bryce, I just love you so much sometimes it just spills out.' And he just laughs," Amanda said.

The Aswells are asking only for prayers. But family and friends are preparing meals and have also established a GoFundMe account to help raise money for the little boy's treatment.

"We're only human," says Amanda. "We have fears. But it's gonna be okay. It'll be all right."