My Doernbecher Story
One week before Caleb’s 3rd birthday, he handed me something with his right hand and I notice a large bump on his wrist. It wasn't painful or red, just very clearly a bump. Ever labeled the typical "over protective" mother, I tried to put it out of my mind. The next night, we showed it to my in-laws at dinner; they immediately seemed alarmed and agreed it didn’t seem a normal “bump”. I called our pediatrician the next day and was told if it wasn’t red and swollen, it was nothing. My “mom” instincts told me differently and I asked her to make an appointment. As soon as the Dr. looked at his wrist, I knew the news wouldn’t be good. She sent us over for an x-ray and on his 3rd birthday we were sitting in the office of an orthopedic physician. We were immediately referred to OHSU and Dr. Hayden. The news after a very long MRI was not promising. The tumor growing in his arm could be malignant. From the previous X-rays, the Dr. had thought it was a simple, benign tumor. But, the MRI told a different story. The plan was surgery for the next day and several different options depending on what was found during the surgery.
We went back to the hotel with a fear I’ve never thought imaginable. Our 3 year old son, the funniest person I’ve ever met, so full of energy, life and love could have bone cancer. It still brings me to tears just writing those words. Very early the next morning we checked into Doernbecher Children Hospital and handed our sons fate over to the team of nurses, doctors and staff. At two hours exactly, Dr. Hayden came back to share the most incredible words I’ve ever heard and I believe I will ever hear, “It’s benign!” Those words still bring me to tears. They removed the tumor and took some bone marrow from his hip to help grow new bone in its place. It would be painful, but he would be OK.
Our Caleb was amazingly strong and brave through all of it. Three years, 12 follow-up visits, and 2 more surgeries, we finally got a clear x-ray in May of 2010. Caleb was now 6 and the tumor had finally NOT grown back as it had every other time we’d returned for a 3 month check-up.
During those 12 visits and 3 surgeries, we received nothing but the most amazing care possible for our child. Dr. Hayden, nurses, anesthesiologist, staff, all remembered Caleb each time he returned. Of course they had children they were caring for with much more serious conditions, but they remembered our Caleb. They took care of him like he was their own. They treated him as if he were the most important child in their care that day as I know they did for every other child in that pre-op room, the OR, and recovery. The entire journey Caleb was on, every person that came in contact with him was on the same journey and would give nothing less than their absolute best effort for him.
Caleb just turned 8, and shows no signs of that tumor returning. He plays basketball and baseball and couldn’t be more active. I love that Caleb remembers that time with fond memories; as we all know, it could be very different feelings that he remembers. We are forever grateful to each and every member of the team that cared for him and could never express our true gratitude for making such a difficult journey less difficult.
A very grateful mother...