Welcome to my blog. I decided to start writing because my son, David, has been diagnosed with cancer. He does have a Caring Bridge site, but it is not written by me, and I have had a few friends encourage me to tell a bit of my perspective. To protect my children, I may not go into every little detail, but I will try to give an honest view of what it is like to go through this as a mother.
To give a little background, David is 16 and lives in Virginia with his father during the school year. I live in Kansas, and my husband, Richard, and I normally visit the kids frequently. They spent time with us in Kansas this summer, and shortly after their return to Virginia, David had an excruciating headache. His dad took him to the emergency room where they sent him home with Tylenol 3. The next day was no better (maybe worse) so they returned to the emergency room. The doctors there did a CT scan and saw a mass in David’s brain and there was bleeding. They put him and his dad in an ambulance headed to MCV/VCU in Richmond, VA.
David’s dad, Mark, called Richard and I, and I hopped on the first flight we could get. We left thinking that David may have emergency surgery before we could even make it to Virginia. We arrived at the hospital around midnight to find David resting fairly comfortably in the Pediatric ICU.
David underwent a number of tests over the next three weeks. CT scans, MRIs, a PET scan, a bone marrow biopsy, and a lumbar puncture. They determined that David had a brain tumor that is normally found in adults between the age of 50-60. It is a malignant tumor that must be treated with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. It is considered “rare”, even though about 9,000 people a year are diagnosed.
I spent my 40th birthday with David in the hospital in Richmond. Seeing his smiling face and spending the day with him and his sister, Austin, was truly a special gift. Two days later, on September 15, 2010, David had a craniotomy to “debulk” the tumor. Dr. Gary Tye was able to remove a good portion of the tumor without doing any neurological damage. David ahd some pretty severe headaches for a few days post surgery, but he had few problems other than that.
We sought out at second opinion on David’s treatment, and found a wonderful team of doctors at Children’s National Medical Center in DC. I was so impressed by the time they took with us, even before David was their patient. We have decided to have Dr. Packer at DC Children’s take the lead on David’s care. He will still be seen in Richmond for his conformal radiation, so we get the best of both worlds.
As I start this blog, David has only had two radiation treatments, so although we have been living in this world for a month and a half, we are really just beginning. I hope that by sharing part of our journey, others may find hope in theirs. I also hope that people will understand how devastating brain tumors can be and support more research for these and other cancers.