September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and all month we’ll be sharing stories about our patients and providers.
This week, Somer Couzens shares the story of her 12-year-old son Brandon, who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma on May 12, 2017. Brandon had been experiencing headaches, nausea and dizziness and visited the emergency room after his eye doctor discovered papilledema, optic disc swelling, during a routine exam.
Three days after Brandon’s tumor was discovered, Dr. Tomoko Tanaka removed the tumor.
“The surgery was a minimum of six hours but lasted about 10 hours,” Somer said. “I was pretty calm the first six hours, but after that I was a nervous wreck. The tumor board decided that all of the tumor had been removed. He had an MRI in August (2017), and he is still NED (no evidence of disease). His first cycle of chemo starts this week. He has already completed 31 days of radiation and 30 days of chemo.”
Somer said Brandon’s journey has been easier thanks to the team at Children’s Hospital.
“While we wish more than anything that Brandon was not having to deal with all of the medical issues he is dealing with, our experience has been positive with every member of the staff — from the doctors, nurses and therapists to the Child Life and housekeeping staff. Everyone, from the beginning, treated him with such care.”
This started at the time of Brandon’s diagnosis when Brandon’s care team explained the situation in terms that would “not freak him out.”
“He has had a chance to get used to the idea that he in fact is dealing with a brain tumor and chemo and radiation. With each procedure, the Child Life team was there to help comfort him. He was in there 42 days, and they worked to make him as comfortable as possible. I am beyond grateful to the staff at Children’s Hospital.”
Although Brandon spent most of the summer in the hospital, he still was able to do some normal activities that most 12 year olds enjoy.
“His best friend came to visit him most days while he was in the hospital, and he has been great with Brandon. Together, they enjoy playing on the PlayStation 4 or on the computer watching YouTube videos. They also watch “Family Guy.”
Brandon is building up his strength through therapy.
“He does two days a week of physical therapy and speech therapy, and he was just bumped from two days a week to one day a week for occupational therapy. I am sure he will be running around being a ‘normal’ child before we know it. Little steps. Small victories are celebrated. There is not a victory that is too small.”