by Emily Parish - Elliot's Mum
Elliot was diagnosed with a brain tumour Friday 03 October 2009.
He had been unwell for about 5 months prior to his diagnosis. He had been off his food and had recurrent bouts of vomiting. My once healthy little boy was looking pretty sick and was getting unsteady on his feet.
That night he started to vomit again, but this time it was different. Rick and I decided I would take him to hospital, and that I was not leaving without an answer. Despite initially being just another Mother with a sick child, something about Elliot’s history and his balance problems made the doctor order a CAT scan.
The CAT scan showed a build-up of the cerebral fluid that was putting pressure on his brain, causing the vomiting, lack of appetite and his balance problems. The fluid was a result of the massive tumour at the rear of his brain.
They operated immediately to relieve the pressure, inserting a drain into his brain. On the Monday Elliot had an MRI to establish the size and exact location of the tumour. The MRI showed the tumour was in one piece, it also showed he had secondary tumours in his spine which were inoperable. They immediately operated to remove the main tumour.
Because of the location of the tumour, they were unable to remove it all. It rested on a critical nerve centre which controlled sight, speech, facial movement and expression. Dr Sharon Lee removed the bulk of the tumour, shaving it down as thinly as she could without causing damage to the brain. She told us what remained of the tumour would be treated with chemotherapy which would also treat the tumours in his spine.
They sent the tumour to be tested to determine what type it was, which tells them what type of chemotherapy to administer.
The pathology results came back, the tumour was a Medullablastoma.
Once Elliot was home after brain surgery he began to come back to us. He was in his own environment and he had his brothers around. He began to sit rather than lay, and each day spoke a few more words. He started to eat a few mouthfuls. He laughed, he gestured for toys and watched shows other than Dora.
He was not running after his Brothers, he got very tired but did not want to sleep. He always needed someone close by. As a family, we had huge adjustments to make. Harrison and Hudson were incredible. They played around their brother. They brought him toys, they made him laugh – they seemed to understand that Elliot had to come first. That Rick and I couldn’t give them the same attention they were used to. Our support team were such an integral part of their and our survival too. There were so many tears, but also laughter and fun.
3 rounds of chemotherapy, 3 rounds of megatherapy (a super strength chemo not given to adults.) 30 sessions of radiation to his brain with 30 general anaesethics administered. The treatment alone nearly killed him. The reality of our day to day life was overwhelming, but it was in this reality that Elliot would get better. With strength, and love, and faith we could get through this and Elliot would get better.
The clear scans – I think you can feel the joy we felt.
Little did we know..
The cancer came back and there was no more treatment as his body was too depleted.
Elliot died in Rick’s and my arms on February 10 2011.
Elliot was a fighter. Harry and Huds lived through this, which is horrifying and heartbreaking. There are no photographs taken, dinners made, little boy jocks folded, school drop off empty seat in the car where I don’t miss him. It is every moment of every day that he is not here.
Rick and I together were and are strong, we have to be. That does not mean we have not been pushed to the edge.