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“There’s a mass.” Three words we never imagined hearing, especially when referring to our energetic, bull of a child, 2 year old Harlan.
Our lives dramatically changed on February 7, 2013. Harlan had already been in the hospital for 1 week and 1 day due to unexplained vomiting with no resolution. He had stopped walking independently and had lost almost 3 ½ pounds in 3 weeks. After having a new IV placed I noticed that Harlan’s right eye was “ticking” in a side to side manner. It was later explained to us that this behavior was called nystagmus. I asked Harlan’s daddy, Jonathan, if Harlan’s left eye was doing the same thing and he confirmed that it was. Immediately Jonathan began looking for our nurse. Within 10 minutes the head pediatrician was in Harlan’s room and ordering a stat CT scan. It wasn’t 30 minutes later we heard those gut wrenching words, “There’s a mass.” After a 3 hour MRI it was confirmed that Harlan had a plum size tumor in the posterior fossa/fourth ventricle of his brain. A external drain was placed the instant the MRI was complete. In the 5 days leading up to the day of Harlan’s surgery, 500mL of fluid was pulled off his brain. On February 13th Harlan underwent surgery to remove the tumor, dubbed the “beast.” We had been prepared for a potential 8 plus hour procedure and after only 3 hours it was confirmed that the tumor had been completely removed. The neurosurgeon warned us that Harlan was at risk of developing Posterior Fossa Syndrome. He said that Harlan had every variable indicating he could get the syndrome after surgery, but there was no way of knowing if he would actually or not. The first 48-72 hours post surgery were going to be the most crucial for Harlan. If Harlan did in fact develop the syndrome he may require a feeding tube, tracheotomy or other forms of assistance with motor skills. By the grace of God, Harlan recovered remarkably and to the astonishment of many doctors and nurses, was taken off the ventilator and woken from his drug induced sleep less than 24 hours after his surgery. Only 2 days after surgery Harlan was moved out of the PICU. On February 18th the pathology revealed that Harlan did in fact have cancer; grade 2 Ependymoma. 1 week post surgery Harlan was discharged from the hospital. On February 25th Harlan had his port placed and underwent a spinal tap. The spinal tap was negative for cancer cells being present in his spinal cord. This was a huge relief to all. It was recommended that Harlan undergo Proton Beam Radiation Therapy. On March 5th in Bloomington, Indiana, Harlan had a CT scan conducted to help map his future radiation treatments. Those treatments will begin on March 18th. Harlan will endure 33 treatments under sedation at Indiana University Proton Beam Center. After this 8 week session is completed we will all return home to Catawba, South Carolina. Harlan’s treatment protocol has been set that 1 month after the radiation he will began his 4 month realm of chemotherapy.
Three words we never imagined, “There’s a mass” have forever changed our world. Despite all we’ve been through we still recognize our blessings, a little more now than we did before.
Harlan The Hero
Arthur State Bank
Attn: Harlan The Hero
201 S. Herlong Ave.
Rock Hill, SC 29732