Brennan’s Buddies® © 2012
On February 1, 2010, our lives were forever altered as we were told that our 7 month old son Sam had Stage 2B Neuroblastoma cancer. For almost 3 years, we have fought this beast with faith and prayers and the support of our family and friends.
Sam is our miracle baby! In his short life, he has already overcome more obstacles than some people do their entire lives.
Sam Duckworth is our feisty and energetic 3 year old boy. He loves to play on your ipad or iphone, listen to music, dance and play with his trains. To look at him, you would never think that he has been in a battle for his life since he was an infant.
The odds were not in our favor to have another child. Yet on June 29, 2009 to the amazement of everyone, Samuel Troy Dean Duckworth was born, healthy. He has been a blessing and a joy to behold. From his sandy blond hair, his blue eyes, his chubby cheeks (which he gets from me) and his flirtatious personality (which he gets from daddy) Sam has a way of wrapping you around his little finger and making you feel like you are looking into the face of God. As with any child, we have great plans for Sam’s life, great expectations of all the wonderful things he will do one day. These plans, however, did not include cancer. Yet, on January 20, 2010, God in His infinite wisdom reminded us that…”my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," (Isaiah 55:8). That night a mass, the size of a golf ball was found on the base of Sam’s neck. Fear like we had never known gripped our hearts. After calls to the ER it was decided we would follow up with Sam’s doctor the following day. January 21, Sam underwent an ultrasound which was inconclusive and we were scheduled to see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist at Children’s Hospital. On January 25, the ENT ordered a neck CT but assured us we were probably looking at a cyst. We left that appointment confident that things were going to be ok. We returned on January 29, where Sam underwent a CT scan with sedation and we struggled through another long weekend of not knowing. We assumed Monday would be a routine follow-up with the ENT doctor, however we were wrong. That morning I received the call no parent ever wants to answer. An oncologist from Children’s Hospital was calling to inform us that Sam’s CT showed a mass that had the appearance of a Neuroblastoma tumor. Sam was 7 months old. Our lives were forever altered in that one moment. For the next few weeks, Sam underwent multiple scans, and biopsy to determine the stage of his cancer. He was officially diagnosed with Stage 2B Neuroblastoma cancer on February 12. Neuroblastoma is a funny cancer. It is one of the most common cancers occurring in children, however, only one out of 100,000 children will actually get the disease. There are only about 650 new cases of Neuroblastoma reported each year. The odds are pretty favorable that your child is safe. At least Jon and I thought so. We were so focused on getting Sam here, carrying him to term that we never stopped to think that there were more hurdles on the horizon. Only 1% of Neuroblastoma cases present with a tumor on the neck, and about 50-60% of children will present with cancer that has spread to other areas at the time of diagnosis. Pretty stunning odds when you ask me. Another interesting fact about this disease, is that it can go away without chemo. This was what they hoped for Sam. Sam was under a year old at diagnosis and his cancer was localized, so he only needed surgery to remove the majority of the tumor, which he had on February 25. Since then, he has had CT scans, MRI’s and MIBG scans every 3 months to make sure the tumors responded to treatment.
They did. Every time we’d have a scan, we’d watch amazed as Sam’s tumors continued to shrink until doctors were finally comfortable saying Sam was stable. Then in October of 2011, subtle changes were noted on Sam’s MRI scan on his clavicle area. These changes have continued on every scan. Then in July, we began noticing more changes in him. Sam, who is usually full of energy, began being more lethargic and tired. He has also been battling constipation. Doctors agreed to rescan him early, and again the area on his clavicle (the same area where they left some of his original tumor) has changed. The surgeon who preformed his first surgery isn’t comfortable with biopsying that area because it is surrounded by nerves, so right now, we have to watch and wait. Sam is scheduled for another MRI on October 24 and at that time, we hope to see clear scans.
During his latest scan this summer, Sam was also found to have a Chiari 1 malformation, which is where is brain stem is too low and is blocking his spinal fluid from getting to his brain. After seeing a Neuro Surgeon, it has been decided that Sam will undergo surgery to remove his cerebral tonsils on November 19, which should correct this malformation.
We appreciate all your prayers and support as our family once again faces cancer head on and fights to see our son cancer free once and for all.
Thank you for taking the time to love and support our amazing little boy!