Dustin Ray Fowler was born on November 1, 1992, and died April 12, 2007, at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville. His mother, Rhonda Swatzell Fowler, lives in Cadiz, and his father, Jeffrey Fowler, lives in Gracey.
Fowler said that no one had any clue that Dustin had a brain tumor until a couple of weeks ago. The symptoms were benign at first. Dustin started complaining of sinus headaches about a year ago and started receiving treatment for sinus infections from Dr. Stuart Harris. Fowler noted that when Dustin ate, the headaches would often go away.
Sometime around February, Dustin began to walk strangely. It seemed as though he was having trouble keeping his balance, Fowler said. She worried that he might have injured himself while riding on a four-wheeler or a motorcycle, but he said he hadn’t. Not only that, but he said his leg didn’t hurt at all.
Ray Fowler, Dustin’s grandfather, said that Dustin had begun to get extremely tired and would go to bed early, unusual for a 14-year-old boy.
“He would say, ‘I go to bed tired and wake up tired,’” Fowler said.
When the headaches became unbearable, Fowler took Dustin to Christian County for treatment. Personnel conducted a CAT scan and found the brain tumor. They told Fowler he needed to go to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital right away.
Doctors weren’t able to remove all of the tumor and told Fowler that it was “aggressive,” she said. During the initial 10-hour surgery, a blood clot formed next to Dustin’s heart and the surgeons went back into surgery to try to remove it. His blood pressure went down and he slipped into a coma from the physical trauma.
Obviously, it’s difficult for the family when any loved one dies, let alone a young teenager. With such a sudden and unexpected death, it’s that much harder.
“He was his mama’s boy,” Fowler said sadly, but clearly proud of her son.
Diane Marlowe, or Aunt DeDe as Dustin knew her, said that Dustin was a “special boy who touched so many lives.” His funeral was Sunday afternoon and he was buried afterward at the Caldwell Blue Spring Baptist Church Cemetery in Caldwell County. Marlowe said that after dinner at the church Sunday, more than 20 children were “saved” and gave their lives to Jesus Christ. It was one way Dustin touched their lives, even in death.
For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.