I’ve written in many of my past posts that my son who is two years old has been sick for quite a while, suffering from seeming bronchitis related illnesses and even pneumonia. In January he became unable to walk properly and it led to the assumption by his pediatrician that he was experiencing inflammation in the inner ear due to an ear infection. Although she was concerned the cause was much more serious, she treated the ear and we all hoped for the best.

His condition declined over January and February, which found us not even a week ago in Children’s Hospital explaining to a myriad of doctors how he’d been ill since late last year and so forth. I’ve repeated the spiel so many times I’ve got it memorized. I don’t even have to think about it.

The pediatricians caring for my child at the hospital, like his regular pediatrician, were concerned about his dizziness and instability. They were concerned enough to conduct a series of simple neurological tests that raised their concerns further leading them to order a CT scan of his brain.

I knew the news was bad when two doctors came into the room, pulled up chairs, and said they were there to talk about the results of the CT scan. They advised us it had revealed a large mass in my son’s brain. I was frozen in this moment, trying to conceptualize the reality of this information. As I held my two year old son on my lap with tears teeming, he turned around, knelt on my thighs, put his hands on my face, and said, “Don’t sad, Mommy.” Trying not to upset him, I assured him Mommy wasn’t sad. Then he reached out to tickle my face in an attempt to make me smile. And though I was still crying, it worked.

An MRI was ordered for the next day, and it showed the doctors the actual size and location of the mass. From the MRI they also learned it had travelled down into his brain stem and his spine.

Oncologists informed us in their matter of fact way that the tumor is malignant. They also told us due to its delicate location, the surgeon will not be able to remove the entire tumor and my son will require follow up treatments of chemo and radiation.

I suppose it’s needless to say that since then we’ve been bombarded with information. I’ve spoken to twenty plus doctors working in nearly every field, it seems, from neurosurgery, orthopedics, oncology, endocrinology, speech therapy, and dietary needs.

They come in pairs, sometimes more. I spoke to three ENTs, two orthopedic doctors, and four neurosurgeons. And that’s not all.

Surgery is scheduled for next week. Suffice to say I am petrified. The procedure will be extensive, it will be dangerous, and it is critical that the tumor be removed as soon as possible. The neurosurgeons are only waiting until next week because my son’s lungs are still swimming in secretions from the pneumonia.

I’m proud of myself for remaining so positive up to this point. Optimism is a trait with which I’ve rarely been associated. But I am optimistic because I won’t be any other way. Because my child is still looking at me for reassurance. He doesn’t know everything, but he knows he is sick and he knows he’s in the hospital. And although his speech is now impaired, along with his ability to swallow, eat, drink, and breath, he is still looking at me and wanting me not to be sad.

19 thoughts on “Findings”

  1. Donnell, I just can’t imagine your terror right now. I’ve only glimpsed that kind of fear, that cancer/tumor horror, and so far never for one of the kids I call “mine” even though I haven’t birthed them. It seems so unfair of the universe that babies have to deal with that. I’m just so glad you are where you are – they will do all things possible for AJ. And like I said, when he is 10 and playing baseball, and running around, and stinking up your house with his smelly shoes, he won’t remember the ordeal you’re about to go through. I know it’ll be a life-changer for you, though. I’m glad for these updates, you’re on my mind constantly right now.

  2. Hard to hit the like button when it comes to a sick child! Im so sorry that you all are going thru this keep your chins up I know the hurt and worry you feel I have a sick child also, not of the same thing but I know what you are feeling please if you need someone to talk with I am here for you sometimes it helps to talk to a outsider or another family with a sick child! Get well soon lil man we are praying for you and your family
    Loves ~Hugs ~ Kisses
    From my family to yours

  3. I’m so proud of you for writing this and sharing your story, I know that was hard, but good therapy at the same time. I have faith that he will beat this and in a few years, this will be a distant memory for him. Team AJ!!!!

  4. I doubt I’ll find the right words, but please know that a stranger is praying for you and your son. A stranger who believes in miracles and goodness and the power of prayer.

  5. Thank you to everyone for all the kind words, thoughts, and prayers. We are surrounded by many generous people who are helping us and going out of their way to assist us in any way they can. In that way we are very blessed.

  6. you are in my family’s prayers get well soon lil man you got alot of growin to do love from my family to yours

  7. Donnell, my sweet, dependable, always smiling Donnell ~~~ May the strength of all God’s angles carry you through this ~~ your determination and dedication will help you face each new day ~~ I am so touched at your writing at this time in need ~~ when I say “If you need anything, please just ask” you and Al know that there is a black and grey army waiting for the call ~~ Not one of us can take away your grief and worry but together we will try any way we can ~~ My heart aches for your lil man right now and he will be in at the top of my prayer list ~~ luv ya ~~ Mama D

    1. Thank you so much. We are just overwhelmed by everything everyone is doing for us.

  8. Just wanted to stop by and say that you all are in our thoughts and prayers and i am so sorry this is happening to you and your family. Praying for a successful surgery and quick recovery for baby AJ

  9. I am praying and thinking of you and yours with so, so very much love. Ganbatte.

  10. I sit here in the early darkness of the morning, saying prayers for you and your son. Like Lisha above, I’m just a stranger who believes in the power of prayer and the gift of miracles. Blessings to you and yours.

  11. Donnell and Albin please know that if you need anything at all just call. We are all praying for A.J. and your family. We are all reading your updates on him and passing on the information.

  12. Love and light to you and your son. I am having my head shaved next weekend at a St. Baldrick’s event, and I’ll be sure to keep your family in my mind. xoxox

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