My Doernbecher Story
It was a snowy evening on 1.11.11 and we were leaving the hospital after just completing an MRI on our 4 yr old son Chase who was having unexplainable balance issues. Just as we got down the hill from the hospital my cell phone rang.....I looked at the number and I knew it was an OHSU number. Dr. Selden, the Chief Pediatric Neurosurgeon was on the other end. After pulling off the side of the road he revealed that our son had a brain tumor and we really should turn around and bring him back to the hospital because his brain was swelling and he needed to be on steroids. He told us that we would be doing surgery as soon as possible and that our situation was "urgent but not emergent." It was so surreal and in that moment our lives forever changed. Despite hearing the news that your child has a brain tumor, my husband & I were immediately confident in Dr. Selden. He reassured us that the characteristics of the tumor on the scan looked like a JPA or Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma and if a child were to get a brain tumor then this is the one to get because it's usually a benign tumor.
We turned around and drove back to the hospital and we accidently and in a state of disarray parked in the surgeon's parking garage. When we got out of the car a doctor walking by said to us... "did I just talk to you on the phone?" I figured if someone was saying that then yes you did. It was Dr. Selden! He looked Chase over and kindly walked us over to the emergency check in for Doernbecher. After the staff in the ER talked with us and got everything ready for us to stay, we transferred over to the PICU at Doernbecher. Call it mothers intuition or a sixth sense but before we left for Chase's MRI earlier that day, I had packed extra clothes and made sure to bring Chase's "big Elmo" and some other comforts from home in his backpack as I recall thinking that morning... "in case we are just sent straight to the hospital."
Three days later we were sending our first born son off for brain surgery. Chase was such a great patient so far but at the point we were ready to wheel him down for surgery Chase knew that it was time and he protested! We got him calmed down and met Dr. Matar, Chase's anesthesiologist, and she took excellent care of him. We said our goodbyes and sent our little guy off feeling surprising peaceful at that moment. It was the biggest loss of control a parent feels when they have to send their child off to surgery, let alone brain surgery to remove a golf ball sized tumor. But it was out of our control at that point. Dr. Selden's nurse practitioner Wendy came out of surgery every few hours to give us an update. What a blessing that was! It meant the world to us! At the end of surgery when Dr. Selden came out to let us know how it went, his first words to us were, "it could not have gone any better." That was music to our ears! As Dr. Selden walked away, my husband and I hugged and I remember saying, "that man just saved our son's life!"
Chase had a MRI the day after surgery and Dr. Selden, who was off that day (it was a Saturday ☺) came in after he had been skiing and told us that the MRI revealed that the entire tumor had been removed! At Chase's two week follow up appt we got the confirmation that his tumor was benign! What a blessing!
Chase healed up perfectly and is now a thriving 5 year old! His subsequent MRI's have all showed no tumor re-growth and continued healing where the tumor once was. Chase will continue to have follow up MRI's until he is 9 years old. We talk to him A LOT about his experience and when Chase turned 5 last November we invited guests to bring toys/pillow pets/arts n crafts rather than gifts for him and took a day as a family to bring the "loot" to Doernbecher for donation!
I could not be more proud of my son who was so incredibly brave. We are so honored to be his parents. We are also so blessed to have Doernbecher Children's Hospital and the gifted doctors and nurses that work there and it's right here in our city! We are forever grateful and would not take back our experience for anything!
If you ask Chase what he wants to be when he grows up he will tell you a neurosurgeon! Watch out Dr. Selden and Dr. Roundy! Who knows how this story will write itself, but at the end of the day one word: "grateful."
Kelly & Janet Crouch