In 4th grade, Torrin Breneman of Detroit, Michigan, learned about cancer. Determined to help, he told his parents he wanted to grow his hair out to donate it to kids who were suffering.
"He didn’t have money in the 4th grade — not enough to make a difference," Jason Breneman, Torrin's father, told TODAY. "It was the best he could do."
Breneman explained that Torrin was "teased and tormented" — not by classmates, who were largely supportive, but by strangers. "Waiters would ask, 'What can I get for her?' Even when I corrected them," Breneman said. "People would be disrespectful ... It bothered him for over a year while he grew his hair out."
Last April, Torrin, now 12, finally got to donate his hair to Wigs for Kids. Not six months later, on September 25, the unthinkable happened: Torrin visited the doctor for a bad cough and was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin's lymphoma himself.
While the cancer was caught early, it had already spread to Torrin's liver, blood, kidney, bones and stomach. He is now undergoing intensive chemotherapy treatment — and the Brenemans are facing every parent's worst nightmare.
"I can measure my sleep in seconds," Breneman said. "There's just one ironic twist after another. (Torrin) contracted during Lymphoma Awareness Month ... his favorite color is lime green, which is (the color of the lymphoma cancer ribbon)."
"When he donated his hair, two weeks after, I read two different articles about kids who donated their hair to cancer and later got it themselves," Breneman continued. "I had what you could call a sick premonition that turned out to be true ... Why do such bad things happen to nice people?"
The silver lining has been an outpouring of support from the local community and beyond. "It's been the opening story every day on the local news ... My boss, Robert Nahra, has been an absolute angel," Breneman said. "So many people are offering connections and making donations."
The family has started a GoFundMe page to help cover Torrin's medical expenses. Breneman also hopes that by sharing Torrin's story, other lives might be saved.
"Don’t overlook anything. It's impossible to overreact," he said. "If your child has a cough, take them in (to the doctor's office). They said that if we had waited a matter of days, it would have been grave."
We send our best to this brave family and their sweet little boy.