Meet Team Max: Boy with brain tumor goes from patient to helping other kids diagnosed with cancer

SEATTLE -- Max Hanson's parents remember the day they got the worst news of their life.

"I was actually in the hospital with Max when we got the diagnosis," his father,  Eric Hanson, said. "He was 8 and wearing his pj's because he'd been sick for about a week.  The nurse came in and gave me the news.  We had no idea that's what we were going to hear that morning."

Max had a brain tumor called medulloblastoma. There are about 500 cases diagnosed this year.

"You never expect this to happen to your child," said Max's mother,  Erin Cordory. "Max was so healthy, super athletic, sporty, hardly ever sick ... our 8-year-old, who was the healthiest kid we knew, just never stopping and to think he was sidelined by a brain tumor, was disbelief."

The doctors at Seattle Children's Hospital went to work. Max had surgery to remove the tumor, and then underwent six weeks of daily radiation and chemotherapy.

The little boy, who loved sports, could no longer play sports. Instead, he was relearning how to walk and speak. But despite all that, Max never lost his competitive edge.

"I'm sick and, uhm, I'm going to get over it," Max said.

Max beat cancer, in part because of the hospital's investigative study made possible by private funds.

Cancer in kids is the leading cause of death from disease in the United States. Yet, pediatric cancer gets less than 3 percent of the federal dollars from the National Cancer Institute.

Realizing the need, Erin and Eric wanted to pay that forward.

"He's lost a lot of friends, and it's heartbreaking. We thought we might be that family, but he survived because other people helped. So that never really left us. So we decided to start our own guild and raise money for pediatric brain tumor research so more kids could survive."

Since forming the research guild in 2005, Max and his family have helped raise more than $3 million.

Now a freshman in college and 11 years in remission, this kid who loves sports now has another passion.

"I think I beat cancer for many reasons," he said. "One being that I can do the work I feel like I am doing now -- in supporting kids that are going through it and being there for them.

"I would tell them keep fighting. It sucks right now, I know. I've been there. But it's going to make you stronger. Life after cancer is the best life worth living," Max said.

There are 450 guilds and 6,200 guild members across Washington state. In 2014, guilds raised $11.9 million for Seattle Children's Hospital. If you would like to learn more about the Pediatric Brain Tumor Guild ... or one of the other many groups working right now to bridge the gap between a need and funding ... just click here.