2009 Children’s Miracle Network Radiothon: One mother’s story

>Editor’s note: The Children’s Miracle Network Radiothon happens this Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 10 to 12, on 103.7 lite fm. The Radiothon is a fundraiser with donations going to Children’s Medical Center and Cook Children’s in Fort Worth. Guest blogger Stacie Smith, the mother of a patient at Children’s Medical Center, shares her son’s story and explains why donations are so important to Children’s. To make a donation, call 877-719-5437.

When my 5-year-old son, Gavin, was 3, we learned that he had a highly malignant cancer called Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor (AT/RT). It had begun as a brain tumor. By the time it was found, it was the size of a large orange and, unfortunately, had spread to his spine.

My husband, Jeff, and I were willing to travel wherever we needed to be if that meant a better chance at saving Gavin’s life. We did our homework. We spoke with five top neuro-oncologists around the country. In the end, we felt confident that the best care truly was closest to home. Having Children’s Medical Center so close made it easier for us to see our younger son, Garrett. And it allowed him to more easily adjust to our family’s sudden change in routine.

Our initial days at Children’s Medical Center Dallas were fast and furious, filled with a number of tests and an intense neurosurgery to remove the tumor. It was shocking and scary. But the team at Children’s, led by David Sacco, M.D., made us confident that they were doing everything in their power to save our son’s life.

As Gavin recuperated from neurosurgery, we began our journey with our oncology team, led by Dan Bowers, M.D. The personalized care that patients at Children’s receive is amazing. Nurses knew that Gavin loved garbage trucks and would play along with him when he referred to his stomach as a “hopper.” They never complained when they had to stay late because of a blood transfusion that took longer than expected.

They made certain that Gavin hurt as little as possible. And they did everything they could to minimize the nausea he fought through his entire course of treatment.

Because of how aggressive Gavin’s cancer was, his treatment was also aggressive. And it took a toll on his little body. Chemotherapy was a long road – 14-and-a-half months. We used services at both the Dallas and Legacy campuses, and spent more days at the hospital than at home.

We got to know entirely too many employees quite well. But it felt nice when a member of the transport team who had driven Gavin by ambulance to the Dallas campus dropped by our room to check on him several months after they’d first met. Another caregiver gave Gavin his sunglasses after he wheeled him outside on a sunny day in May. He insisted that Gavin keep them. Even the parking garage attendant would ask how our little guy was doing.

By the end of treatment, our caregivers at Children’s felt like family.

All of this and more is why I am passionate about supporting Children’s. It’s a not-for-profit hospital, which means it depends on donations to provide the best care for our children. This time it was my child that needed superior medical treatment. Tomorrow it could be yours.

Much love,
Stacie Smith

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