Conner’s Story

Site created on March 1, 2019

Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place.

On February 18, 2019 Conner was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a malignant tumor in his brain and spinal chord.  The next day he underwent a 10-hour surgery to remove the tumor. The weeks prior to the diagnoses were filled with increased nausea, headaches, and malaise. On February 7, our first appointment with neurology, the thought was that he had stomach migraines which creates the same symptoms. We started a medicine for the migraines but it didn't end up helping. Our neurologist scheduled an MRI but Conner couldn't get in right away. February 16th he threw up blood during a nauseous episode. Unsure what to do on the weekend, we called to our neurologist. The on-call neurologist said to watch it and to stop the Ibruprofen we were giving in case that was irritating his stomach. Monday, we couldn't take seeing him like that anymore. Something else had to be going on. We took him to our local hospital. Instead of the CT scan we opted for an MRI in Wausau. We then drove there and after an MRI were told it was a tumor. Devastating.

Conner was taken by ambulance to UW Health in Madison, an AMAZING hospital, with surgery to follow the next day. We're so lucky to have had the best surgeon who works on cases like his every day! He removed the brain tumor but, unfortunately, a full head/spinal chord MRI showed that the malignant tumor had spread down his spinal chord. The current plan is that once he's recovered from the surgery (still in PICU) and completes rehabilitation, he'll need to undergo weeks of chemotherapy treatment known as Head Start 4. (  https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/clinical-trials/17-475 ) First, he would need stem cells harvested and stored. Then he'd undergo intense chemotherapy in the hospital for two weeks, off a week, on two weeks, off a week, on two weeks--replacing his stem cells once complete (which will also need a recovery period). 

As we've already discovered the long cancer journey will have unpredictable ups and downs. Please don't feel obligated to donate--well-wishes, thoughts, and prayers are plenty. But if you are interested, the donation would help with medical expenses, travel costs, and supplement household income (we'll be returning to work slowly, spending as much time with Conner and his sister as needed).

We're holding strong, alternating caring for Conner and spending time with our 10-year-old daughter--taking it day-by-day. 
We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.

Newest Update

Journal entry by Amber Olszewski

Conner had a wonderful birthday weekend! We had family and 3 of his closest school friends over. The kids had sledding fun and a couple nerf wars. We were eligible, through IcingSmiles (a national non-profit), for a dream cake to be made for Conner by a local baker. We were lucky enough to get Zest, here in Point. Jake, one of the owners, outdid himself! We gave him a theme, some inspiration pics and cake flavors and he made the coolest SpongeBob Squarepants cake! See pics. I can’t imagine how much time and materials he went through. Conner’s eyes lit up when he saw it. 

Conner was genuinely happy at his party, like a normal boy his age. He was goofing around and tried to keep up with the boys as best he could. Thanks to all who came and made his day special!

Yesterday was a horrible day for Conner. Conner’s G-tube fell out overnight. It’s really important to get a placeholder tube in right away to keep the hole from sealing—it will happen quickly. Well, since we didn’t realize it until the morning I was only able to get the tube through the skin and not into his stomach so we went to the ER. They were able to get the placeholder in and we were so thankful—they saved us a trip to Madison! Unfortunately, the placeholder tube was smaller than the actual G-tube so it was extremely painful when they were trying to get the g-tube in. They gave up on trying to force it in. Conner was screaming so loud in pain that his stomach muscles tightened making it harder. Dr ended up forcing a larger placeholder tube in (more pain) to try and stretch out the hole. After that was placed, I told them Conner needed stronger painkillers (he had Tylenol earlier). They left the larger placeholder in for about an hour (and gave him a painkiller) which also helped Conner relax, too. He kept saying he wanted to be sedated. In the past they’ve sedated for MRIs & Proton during treatment. The doctor came back in and tried getting the g-tube in again—this time he was successful. I was close to having to hold Conner down (because the first time was traumatizing) but thankfully he allowed the doctor just enough access for him to work. Still screamed and cried but the doctor was super quick. 

We ended up resting at home the rest of the day. He said his tummy didn’t hurt at all, which was great! Since then he hasn’t complained about it hurting either—tough kid! 

Not sure if this was related to yesterday’s events but he went to school this morning and almost immediately had to vomit. Luckily, there was a garbage can nearby because he said he wouldn’t have made it to the bathroom. Ed picked him up shortly after. He just hasn’t been himself today. Not very active and tonight he was extremely sensitive to everything—lots of crying. He kept saying, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me” with tears dipping down his face. He says nothing hurts but then, when we were laying down in his bed, reading books, he said his legs hurt. No idea what tomorrow morning will bring! I imagine he won’t be feeling well but who knows!
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