Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place on Kip’s progress with his brain cancer treatment. Below we discuss Kip’s diagnosis, brain surgery, the first few weeks after surgery, and the preparation for his treatment to come. We will post separate journal entries on pertinent events to keep everyone as up to date as possible.
On December 20, 2019 Kip was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He went to the ER where we were so thankful to be guided by Dr. Al Shultz in the decision to transfer Kip to Valley Children’s Medical Center in Madera, CA. He was taken by ambulance to Madera where he received outstanding care from all staff and doctors. He was stable, so the surgical team was able to carefully plan his surgery to remove the tumor. On December 23, Dr. Julia Sharma, Dr. Wright and their team successfully removed the entire tumor.
In the days following the surgery, the hospital did an amazing job to make it feel like Christmas. Kip had quite a bit of pain and had difficulty resting at first but the talented nursing and medical staff helped him through and he made an amazing recovery. We were blessed with numerous visitors and an outpouring of concern and support from friends and family from around the country and the world! Kip even received some video messages from some major league stars that had heard he was in the hospital. We even met new friends along the way. The love and support we felt through this very difficult time was so tremendous, we can't even express in words how appreciative we were. It truly helped us get through something nobody can be prepared for.
We were sad to learn that Kip’s tumor was not benign. It was a medulloblastoma which will require a year of radiation and chemotherapy to keep this cancer from coming back. Kip inspired us with the most motivated attitude that we could imagine! We pledged our efforts to fight the adversities with growth, adventure and happiness.
Kip was paired with a great medical social worker, Alistair, and Dr. Samuel, medical oncologist, who helped us navigate the next steps. Kip was discharged in record time on December 27 and we stayed in the home of the Savala family who graciously housed our family for the week. We were all so glad to be home on December 28 where we enjoyed blessings of food, gifts, visits and well wishes as well as kisses from our dogs who we missed. Kip even met his classmates and teammates and friends at the movie. He went to the Cal Poly baseball fields to attend his AG Bull’s practice session, just two weeks after his surgery!!
Kip returned on January 3rd for a lumbar puncture and again we were impressed with the skill and compassion at Valley Children’s. We met Nikki, Kip’s medical social worker, who gave him a large monkey that will take his place at school while he is in treatment. This program— “Monkey In My Chair” —helps kids with cancer stay connected to their classmates while they are away. Kip’s baseball team will adopt the monkey as well and Kip has a new iPad to stay in-touch!
On January 7th Kip visited California Proton Center in San Diego and met his radiation oncologist, Dr. Iain MacEwan and Dr. Jennifer Elster, oncologist from Rady Children’s Hospital. Dr. MacEwan and his staff have already helped us immensely to quickly formulate a plan for Kip and make us feel confident in his treatment going forward. We are also thankful that our family physician, Dr. John Okerblom, and our insurance company through Physician’s Choice Medical Group approved his plan in a timely fashion. We are incredibly blessed that we have generous friends John and Sally Hood and our relatives, the Rosso and Conroy families in San Diego that are already supporting us with a place to stay and rehabilitate.
As Jay and Kip were travelling back from San Diego, we received great news from Drs. MacEwen and Sharma. The cerebral spinal fluid sample obtained last Friday is negative for metastatic cancer cells! This supports the MRI data that shows no cancer in the spinal cord and other parts of the brain. Ultimately this will limit the amount of radiation that Kip will be exposed to, which decreases the chance of side effects.
To know Kip is to absolutely love him. He is the kindest most caring soul, and is always putting the needs of others over his own. We appreciate every word, thought, prayer, and act of kindness you have bestowed on Kip and our family. It has meant the world to us and has made this incredibly difficult journey a little more bearable.
People keep asking what they can do. The answer is to keep doing your thing to the absolute fullest, knowing that life is such a precious gift. When you find yourself overwhelmed, slow down and appreciate the wonders around you. When you are in silent reflection, send positive thoughts and prayers Kip’s way. He feels it.
Kip’s wish is to have everyone stay in touch and maintain normalcy, so that when this is all over he can just step back into life. He knows this experience will be tough, but we as a family, are committed to growth and enhancement that we could not have achieved without this trial before us. We will try to post updates here so information is more timely and efficient. We want to thank everyone for their prayers, positive energy, words of love and acts of kindness.
Your love has supported us through this difficult time and we are now ready to face the challenges of 2020 with courage and hope. For now we are taking every single thing, moment by moment, with each stage, no matter the significance, as a positive progression forward.....Kip Steps.