CONWAY, Ark. – Many people have the chance to tell their story, but not everyone wears their story.
Bowen Bradford, a 10-year-old boy from Conway, can’t remember a day without headaches. He spent years going from doctor to doctor looking for answers and no one seemed to know what was wrong.
His mother Sheri Bradford was by his side through it all. After 13 misdiagnoses, a “miracle doctor” determined he had craniosynostosis.
“His new neurologist just ran his hands over Bowen’s head and said, ‘I believe I know what’s wrong with your son,'” Sheri said.
His skull formed too early, not leaving any room for his brain to grow. To fix it, doctors took off his entire skull.
“I was kind of scared but also happy that it was going to happen so that I could be better,” Bowen said.
The skull was put back together like pieces of a puzzle.
“I was pretty nervous,” Bowen said.
But Bowen was almost more nervous he wouldn’t be able to do what he loved anymore, shooting sports.
Bowen’s vision was blurry before the surgery, but he kept shooting. It was his escape from reality.
“It kept my mind off the pain and my eye on the target,” Bowen said.
Months went by preparing for surgery.
“He continued and fought, and through it all, he had a love for shooting, his love of shooting never wavered,” Sheri said.
They finally had the cure they were aiming for. Sheri said she will never forget these words from the doctor.
“We successfully removed Bowen’s skull, and his brain popped out like a muffin top,” Sheri recalled hearing from the doctor. “I remember being taken aback like wow, she said his brain was under so much immense pressure it just needed room.”
Having his skull removed wasn’t the only challenge.
“When he would just look at me, with his swollen eyes and say, ‘Mom I can’t walk, and it hurts so bad,’ it’s really scary,” Sheri said.
Bowen had a Dural tear during the surgery, meaning some connective tissue was damaged and there was a chance he wouldn’t walk again.
“His first question when we got home was, ‘Am I still going to go to my first practice?’,” Sheri said.
His resilience and passion showing once again. Before the surgery, he had just joined a new shooting team.
“I remember pushing him in a wheelchair, and the parking lot is rock and gravel and dirt, and we had to lift him up to get him through the door because there was no ramp,” Sheri said.
Now, Bowen walks, runs, plays, and of course shoots.
No more blurry vision, and no more pain.
“God helped me see my purpose as I was aiming for the target, and I wanted to point others to Jesus,” Bowen said.
He gets asked a lot whether it’s a haircut or a scar, allowing him to share his bravery with others.
“I hope they see that it’s a story that they should know, a really neat one,” Bowen said.
When Bowen sees the zig-zags across his head, he is reminded of how he kept his eye on the target.
“I see myself that got through all of this and overcame it,” Bowen said.