Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. We apologize in advance if we can't respond to all of your comments. Thank you for visiting.
On Thursday, December 21st, Jackson was sent for a MRI at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights after having headaches that were increasing in frequency and intensity. The MRI showed a large tumor in the 4th ventricle of the brain - the space between the brain stem and the cerebellum. He was immediately taken to the ER at NCH, where we waited for an ambulance to transfer him to Lurie Children's Hospital in downtown Chicago.
Jackson underwent a successful four hour surgery on the 22nd to remove the tumor. The neurosurgeon was confident that he removed the entire tumor, which was later confirmed by both CAT scan and a subsequent MRI. The preliminary diagnosis was medulloblastoma. Medulloblastoma is a rapidly-growing tumor of the cerebellum - the lower, rear portion of the brain. This area controls balance, posture and complex motor functions such as finer hand movements, speech, and swallowing. The surgeon was very encouraging, stating that it was entirely curable and that Jackson had three great things going for him: they got the whole tumor, it hadn't spread (a spinal MRI was also done on the 22nd and it was clear), and he's older than three.
Jackson has been improving every day. He ate his first real food (cheese pizza) on Christmas. He took his first (supported) walk that same day. His left side is a bit weaker than his right, but that is improving daily as well. He started physical therapy on the 26th. While he thinks the physical therapist is tough, Dad "Drill Sergeant" Clark is much tougher to deal with! With a little luck and a lot of prayers, he will be discharged on January 1st. We will hopefully be bringing him home for a couple days, before he starts in-patient rehab. The goal there is to get him back to as strong as he was pre surgery to prepare him for what comes next.
While we are still awaiting the official diagnosis, we know that Jackson will be undergoing both radiation and chemotherapy over the coming months. What we don't know yet is in what intensity and for how long. Different kids react to these treatments in different ways. We have a lot of prayers for Jackson right now. One such prayer is that these treatments do their job, while at the same time not causing any long term side effects.
We sincerely appreciate the outpouring of support and prayers that we've received thus far and know that we will receive in the future. Our family, friends, and church family have been amazing. "It takes a village" couldn't be more true. Thank you for your prayers and support. They mean the world to us.