The bond between brothers is special. The link between Brooks and Broward Roberts is especially unique.
Brooks, 3, and Broward, 4, do everything together. They ride four-wheelers and go on backyard adventures. They were also both diagnosed with a tethered spinal cord, a neurologic condition caused by the spinal cord attaching to tissue around the spine. This condition is not known to be genetic.
In October 2020, Broward started suffering from back pain. His mother, Kristin, noticed a lump by his lower spine. As the week went on, her oldest son’s complaints grew more frequent. His symptoms culminated on Halloween night; Broward started dragging his toe while walking. Kristin said it was as though her son was tripping over his right foot.
Fortunately, the Roberts family was familiar with UF Health’s pediatric neurosurgery team. Born with a sacral dimple, or a small bump on his lower back, Broward first visited Lance Governale, M.D., UF Health’s chief of pediatric neurosurgery, at 6 weeks old. Nearly three years after his first visit, Broward would need surgery.
“Dr. Governale went over Broward’s results with us and explained the upcoming procedure so sweetly and in great detail,” Kristin said. “Broward gets anxious, but he immediately warmed up to [him].”
The surgery helped Broward get back to walking and running – as soon as nine days after the procedure.
Two months later, Brooks, Broward’s younger brother, would have his successful surgery. Kristin noticed Brooks had begun to curl his toes and stack them on top of one another. Eventually, Brooks started to trip over his toes, resembling one of Broward’s symptoms.
Again, Governale was there.
“Dr. Governale is family,” Kristin said. “He holds a special place in my heart.”
Both Brooks and Broward have since been released from Dr. Governale’s care. Visits with him are only “as needed,” Kristin said. Brooks still does check-ins with cardiology, pulmonology, audiology, ENT, urology, gastrointestinal and nutrition at UF Health. That’s only because Brooks was a micro-preemie and was born at 31 weeks.
“Without UF Health, our boys wouldn’t be thriving and with us today,” Kristin said. “Both boys have had not only phenomenal care but also equally the same amount of success.
“The relationships the staff have made with our boys – outside of the routine questions and constant visits – have made lasting impressions. We can never say thank you enough.”
The boys are enjoying 2022. Brooks recently celebrated his third birthday party. The Roberts family brought in a traveling petting zoo, and Brooks was able to hold a baby kangaroo! Broward is competing in his second season of soccer. Even though Brooks is too young to join the soccer league, he’s always nearby cheering his older brother on!