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South Boston Elementary student dies after struggle with brain tumor

South Boston News
Trevant Coleman
SoVaNow.com / February 17, 2013
Trevant Coleman, a fourth-grade student at South Boston Elementary whose courageous battle with brain cancer won him the affection and admiration of thousands of followers on Facebook and in the community, has died.

The nine-year-old passed away Saturday morning with his mother, Adrean Coleman, sitting at his bedside at Halifax Regional Hospital. She said he died peacefully in his sleep around 6:15 a.m.

Trevant had been in the local hospital since Jan. 29, she said, the latest turn of events during a two-and-half month period that saw his condition steadily worsen. He last attended school in December 2012 and underwent renewed drug treatments for his cancer on Dec. 19, she said. Shortly after Christmas he was admitted into MCV Hospitals in Richmond, where his doctors said he would have only two to three months to live. The end seemed to be near when Trevant lapsed into an extended period of unconsciousness.

“That’s when they thought he was going to die. They took him off life support on New Year’s Day. They didn’t think he would live,” said Ms. Coleman in a telephone interview Sunday afternoon.

Trevant surprised his doctors at MCV, rallying to sufficient health to leave the hospital and return home to South Boston. But by the end of January, he was back inside a hospital, this time at Halifax Regional. He would not go home again.

Lying in his hospital bed, attended to by his mother and siblings — Ms. Coleman is also the mother of 6-year-old Darius, 4-year-old Kierra and 3-year-old Kendra — Trevant, during those times when he was awake, remained in good spirits and a source of inspiration to his family, his many visitors and to the thousands of followers of his Facebook page, Trevant’s Cause.

“Outgoing,” said Ms. Coleman in describing her son, an active child who loved his church, the New St. Luke. In one of her many Facebook posts from the hospital, dated Feb. 6, she wrote: “My mind is racing Tre said he ready to go with GOD.”

“It was day-by-day, step-by-step,” she said yesterday of the ordeal.

After falling ill in March 2012, Trevant was initially diagnosed as having suffered a stroke that caused him to lose movement on one side of his body. In fact he had a tumor pressing against his brain — the diagnosis was inoperable Stage 3 cancer. His plight spurred an outpouring of love and support at South Boston Elementary, culminating in a May 11, 2012, event in which teachers and students donned “Trevant – No One Fights Alone” t-shirts in his favorite color, lime green.

The school reprised the event again in December.

“I think it reminded him of candy apple lollipops,” said his mother of the bright green hue.

Trevant was wearing one of the lime-green t-shirts when he died Saturday morning.

The child’s struggle with brain cancer, and Ms. Coleman’s frequent Facebook posts from his bedside — typically short, emotionally wrought passages, reflecting the ups and downs of loving mother as she watched her child slip away — drew a huge following. In final days, with Trevant wandering in and out of consciousness, his mother expressed the fervent hope that he would not suffer.

“[H]ow do u watch the life slip away” read one such post on the Facebook wall, dated Feb. 6. After agonizing over her unconscious son, on Feb. 12 she posted a photo that brought cheers from Facebook followers: “Look who decided to wake up.”

Saturday morning, she broke the news — “My heart is heavy RIP my sweet ANGEL” — drawing comments from more than 550 people who expressed their sympathies.

Sunday, she said she was gratified by the community’s support and decided to communicate so openly about Trevant’s illness because she believes her son’s short life has served a greater calling.

“It was like a ministry,” she said. “It brought a whole lot of people together in the United States and around the world. I took that as his purpose in life.”

Friends, community members and others supported the family during Trevant’s trials, providing feedback that Ms. Coleman said has helped to sustain her through difficult times. “Most people can identify [with] Trevant. He went from normal to illness. It could just as well be their child in the same situation,” she said.

Kim Farson, School Board chairwoman, was one of the many visitors at Trevant’s bedside in his final days. Her last visit came Friday, Feb. 8; at Monday’s School Board meeting, she showed up wearing a lime green t-shirt in Trevant’s honor. In a statement over the weekend she asked the community to continue its thoughts and prayers “to comfort the Coleman family during their time of need.

“I am thankful to have been personally touched by Trevant’s courage, strength and faith,” wrote Farson in an e-mailed statement. “With a smile on his face, twinkle in his eyes and firm squeeze of your hand he let you know without ever saying a word that ‘No One Fights Alone.’

“May everyone that knew Trevant’s story be inspired by him to live life with such courage and faith,” Farson stated.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Merle Herndon, too, expressed her condolences: “I can’t think of any greater loss than the passing of a child. His passing will be greatly felt by … classmates and school family.

Representatives from the county school division will be attending Trevant’s funeral, Herndon said, adding that she hopes to meet personally with the family in the next few days.

Numerous other individuals and community organizations honored Trevant and his family, including the sheriff’s department, which made the child an honorary deputy, and the South Boston Fire Department, which made him an honorary firefighter. Churches also visited him and sent support.

A funeral service has been scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Grace Baptist Church on Buckshoal Road, Virgilina, according to his mother, with a wake scheduled Friday from 6-7 p.m. at Jeffress Funeral Home.









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