WEEK 1 – Oct 1 – Oct 7,2005
Emily was admitted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, NC, for symptoms of imbalance when walking, difficulty chewing and swallowing, slurred speech and persistent drooling. Upon initial examination, the doctors decided to take a CT scan. The scan identified a lesion in the pons area of Emily’s brainstem. The decision was made to transport Emily via an ambulance to the UNC Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC. Once there, a team of Pediatric specialists confirmed the diagnosis and gave it a name, Brainstem Glioma. Emily was placed in the Pediatric ICU overnight for observation. The brainstem controls many of the body’s basic functions like respiration, heart rhythm, walking, talking, etc. The characteristics of this type of brain tumor have sudden onset, and Emily’s symptoms were textbook. First thing Sunday morning, Oct. 2, the doctors ordered a MRI. The MRI gave a more detailed image of the extent of the lesions involvement. The tumor had invaded the entire pons area of the brainstem almost tripling the size the this portion of the brain. These tumors rare, and the prognosis is very poor in most cases, because surgery is not an option. By the time symptoms are present, the tumors are advanced. Emily’s Pediatric Oncologist and Radiologist wasted no time in moving forward with her treatment. Radiation therapy began Tuesday, October 4, and an oral chemotherapy regimen began Wednesday, Oct. 5. Emily was stable enough to be discharged on Thursday, Oct. 6. She and her family have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) since her discharge and plan to stay through her initial 6 week therapy.