When Tanner was two he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He had been having all the symptoms… the problem was, at that time, we did not know the symptoms. On December 9, 1999 he had a cat scan to find out why his eyes were crossing. I remember being so upset that he may have to have eye surgery. Ironically, I would give anything now if that was how it turned out. You never imagine that cancer would touch the life of “your” child, but it can. It can turn your world upside down overnight. We were told that the neurosurgeon (Dr. William Boydston) was on his way to talk to us. He was a very kind man and took me in his arms while I cried and assured me that he would do everything he could for my baby. He won my heart that very day.
Tanner was admitted to the hospital and the next day he had a shunt put in to drain spinal fluid off his brain. Three days later the unimaginable turned to reality…we had to put the life of our precious baby in the hands of a stranger. Tanner had a craniotomy to resect some of the brain tumor. Some of it is in his brain stem and cannot be removed. When the pathology report came back he was diagnosed with a low grade astrocytoma, which means “slow growing” tumor. It is a benign tumor but it is in a very dangerous place so it has to be treated like it is malignant.
Following surgery he was treated with chemotherapy for a year and 4 months. He was such a trooper through it all. Sure he was sick and in and out of the hospital a lot, but you couldn’t tell it by his determination to keep living. He has always been the kind of child to fall and get right back up and keep going.
For the past 10 years we have lived chemo-free, but recently found out that Tanner’s tumor is growing again and he needed another brain surgery. On November 10, 2011 he went back into the operating room. I could not believe we were reliving this nightmare. Tanner was very brave and did not shed a tear. I cannot say the same for myself, but I was very proud of my son. During the next eight hours we waited for the minute we were reunited with Tanner. Words cannot express the feeling when I saw him on the stretcher. God brought our precious son out of surgery and back to my waiting arms. During the next four weeks Tanner was in ICU and then CIRU (inpatient rehab). It was almost harder this time than when he was two because then I could put him in my lap and put my arms around him and pretend nothing could hurt him….this time I had to watch him fight to walk, talk, eat and spend his 13th birthday in the hospital. I put on a brave face and hid my tears and he amazed me every day as he got stronger and never complained. After that, he went to the Day Rehab program at Scottish Rite for six weeks. During the surgery Dr. Boydston got 85% of the tumor but in the process a nerve was damaged that paralyzed the right side of his face. This has been a battle we were not expecting. However, we are very hopeful that God will heal him from this; but if not we will still praise His name that we still have Tanner.
Today he is in speech and physical therapy and back at school. So far he has not had to do another round of chemo but he is getting MRI’s every three months so we are watching it and praying he does not have to go through that again. He still has a rough road ahead of him but he is the most determined child and I know he is up for the challenge. To this day I don’t understand why Tanner has had to go through this but I stand in amazement of him, he is my Hero and I am very proud to be his mom.
We have learned a lot that we never wanted to know about pathology, chemo regimens and blood counts. We would give anything for Tanner never to have had to be touched by one needle or medicine that made him sick or the surgery that saved his life, but as the saying goes…If God brings you to it He will bring you through it and He has been with us through it all.
Tanner has two of the best doctors in the country (Dr. William Boydston-neurosurgeon and Dr. Claire Mazewski-oncologist). We are still not sure what the future holds for Tanner but with their knowledge and God’s grace we will fight this battle with our precious son and I know we will come out safely on the other side.