AJ was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 10 ½ on January 11, 2002. He had been experiencing blurred and double vision and other neurological symptoms. Although we had an appointment scheduled on January 14th with a neuroophthamologist, he became cross-eyed while watching TV the night of January 11th and we brought him to the ER at Egleston (Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Emory).
A CT scan showed a 4 cm. tumor in his cerebellum. We were immediately admitted. He had surgery to remove the tumor on January 15, 2002. Pathology reports showed this tumor to be medulloblastoma (a malignant type of tumor/cancerous). He suffered from posterior fossa syndrome (also known as cerebellar mutism) 4 days after surgery and was mute for 7 weeks and paralyzed on his right side. The initial hospitalization was 6 weeks long with many complications.
He underwent 6 weeks of hyperfractionated radiation (done twice/daily) and one year of chemotherapy (vincristine, CCNU, and cisplatin). He did 3 months of Day Rehab at Scottish Rite and started homebound schooling in the spring of 2002.
After coming off the antibiotics in July, 2003, (he had been on these through, & 6 months after, chemo), he developed an absess in October, 2003 (they think it was latent) near his tumor site which resulted in bacterial meningitis. The neurosurgeon & infectious disease team thought it best to remove the bone plate put back in after the initial surgery. After this one week hospitalization, he was on IV antibiotics at home for one month.
AJ had to relearn walking and talking, writing, tying his shoes, etc. Most of these motor deficits are from the posterior fossa syndrome rather than tumor.
AJ is currently a sophomore at Brookwood High School in Snellville GA. He has one sister, Samantha, who is a junior at BHS. His obsession is fishing! He is a high blue belt in Tae Kwon Do. He loves doing activities with Camp Sunshine and the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children. He also frequently visits newly diagnosed brain tumor patients with his mom.
Written by Chris Owens (mom)