My story is about my hero, the bravest child I know. My daughter Brittany Leigh.
Brittany is 15, very athletic, smart, of course beautiful, popular, funny, musically inclined, just your typical outgoing teenager, until April 23rd 00. Brittany had been tripped on the soccer field during a game one day before Thanksgiving last year. I immediately flew off the bleachers to her side after a moment of NO Movement. When I reached her this huge smile came to her face and through her tear came "HI MOM" My eyes filled, at this moment of pain she thought to acknowledge my presence. She had whacked her head pretty hard on the ground and was a bit shaky. After a few minutes she stood, of course being Brittany, the roar of the crowd was overwhelming. Off to the hospital we rushed. It was literally 500 feet away, thank goodness. She was examined and held for observation a few hours. We were sent home with orders to keep a close eye on her and wake her several times a night.
The following week Brit started complaining her shoulder hurt. Being athletic and taking the fall into consideration, I told her to ice the shoulder. This went on for about 3 weeks. Than one day I touched her shoulder. I was not expecting the tears, the grimace or the pain that came to her face! I knew immediately it was not muscular, but assumed from her response it was nerve. I called the Dr. We waited 2 weeks to be seen. We explained the fall. Explained that no x-rays were taken. After looking at her arm the paediatrician decided it was tendonitis. It sounded logical, she is an athlete. We started Physical therapy. 2 weeks later this child was waking at night in excruciating pain. We went back to the Dr. who sent us to a Dr for sports medicine. Again we explained the fall and no x rays, etc... He also claimed it was tendonitis.
I asked the specialist to do a MRI." No she doesn't need expensive tests" , he said. Then questioned me as to how I knew what a MRI was? Right away my hubby and I walked out knowing we needed a different Dr. He ordered more physical therapy.
Working full time it was becoming more difficult to get her back and fourth to Dartmouth Hitchcock hospital 30 miles from home for physical therapy. I called the paediatrician to request that therapy be moved to the hospital in our town. A five-minute walk for her patient. The paediatrician refused because she didn't like dealing with the hospital I requested. I explained they wouldn't be my first choice either, but her patient, my daughter, was suffering in pain. If physical therapy was going to help she would need to make all her appointments. Being at the site I suggested would make this possible, because Brit could walk there. The paediatrician refused my request. She was so adamant she told me point blank if I didn't want to use her pt department I would need to find a new Dr! I do not think I have to explain my anger at this point.
By this time it was near the end of March. I had to change my PCP with insurance, which can only be done 1 time a year. Thank God that date closed 1st April, I just made it! I chose the new paediatrician in my town.
I Called pleading they see my child immediately and explained what was happening. They were very accommodating and fitted us in 5 days later. The new Dr. immediately asked to see her x-rays. I once again explained no tests had been done other than physical exams. He told her instantly to get dressed. He felt it was a rotator cuff injury, but admitted he was not certain and she needed an orthopaedic. He sent us to his personal ortho man who did all his surgery. Now I was feeling a bit more comfortable. We waited to be seen by the ortho guy another 2 weeks. Softball season had now started and Brittany being the athlete she is, was grimacing through tryouts. She was getting so frustrated with herself because she couldn't get her swing where she liked it, to get the home runs. She stuck with it and made varsity freshman year.
Finally 20th April arrived and now there was swelling on Britt's shoulder it was much lower in appearance than the right shoulder. Our appointment was with the nurse practitioner. The lady entered and immediately said "wow what's going on here!?". Brittany and the nurse disappeared to the next room for x-rays. Brittany returned alone. We never saw the nurse again. Enter the Orthopaedic man himself. He slapped some x-rays up on the view box and started showing me "something" in her left humerus. He was very definite he didn't know what it was, but had his suspicions. Clearly stating to us if it turns out to be what he is thinking it may be that Britt will need to immediately report to Boston's children's' hospital as the only centres capable of handling her tumour are in Boston, MA, CA and TX. Tumour I asked, benign? "I don't know what it is?" he said. "Did you possibly break it during the fall and this is added calcium? I'm not sure and am not ready to speculate more until all the tests are conclusive". ( I know now this was all said to comfort me) Ok tests good, fine. When? I ask. Now!, walk down the parking lot to the hospital right now. He walked out, Brittany was in shock. I heard him on the phone with the hospitals out patient dept. His voice was growing louder, "cancel your patient, I want mine in there before 2 pm today". Oh God is I was thinking and Brittany could hear all this as well. We walked to the hospital, not a word was spoken. First blood work, then CT scan, bone scan, finally MRI. He informed me he would call immediately with the results. By 21st April we still hadn't heard anything.
Brittany returned from school relieved, telling me an acquaintance of hers went to the same Dr. and was told he had a tumour that was benign in his arm. Relief! That afternoon we all had plans, my husband and I were going to ME for the night to see a concert. Jaclyn to Boston for a birthday celebration with friends, and Brit & Joelle to stay with my niece and family. Saturday I returned home, picked up Joelle at my Brothers house. Brittany decided to stay and hang out. Sunday morning at 8 am I got a phone call. Excited, I ran to answer it. It was Easter Sunday and I assumed it was well-wishers. It was our orthopaedic Dr. I had settled things with Brittany joking that she was so healthy she just had excess calcium build up. We hadn't heard from the doctor so I assumed all was well. We were not home since mid-day on Friday though. He explained he had been trying to reach me for a few days. unfortunately his suspicions were correct. Brittany has osteosarcoma.
We struggled through Easter morning with smiles, searching out Easter baskets which were left for Joelle who is 7. But now had to explain to Brittany she has cancer.
The hardest most difficult thing I've ever had to do was tell my baby her arm was infected with cancer.
But this is just the beginning of our journey.