Eric’s family noticed that he wasn’t eating as much as normal in the summer of 2019. Gradually, the four-year-old boy’s symptoms intensified: He began suffering from severe headaches and vomiting fluid.
When Eric complained of an unrelenting headache one afternoon in June 2019, Eric’s mom Maria took him to their local emergency department, where a doctor ordered a CT scan of Eric’s head.
“The results showed Eric had a mass on his brain,” Maria said. “My body went numb. I couldn’t believe it.”
Eric was transferred to Lurie Children’s, where the Brain Tumor Program team was waiting to meet him and his family.
“They took me step by step, explaining what they would need to do,” Maria said. “I was so scared. We’d never experienced anything like that.”
One of Lurie’s Neurosurgeons, Dr. Tanadori Tomita, performed a surgical removal of Eric’s mass. The tissue was then sent to pathology to determine what the mass was. The team confirmed Eric had a brain tumor known as medulloblastoma.
For the next few days, Eric recovered from his procedure in the hospital and worked with therapists to maintain his strength, balance and mobility.
He then began six weeks of radiation therapy before beginning nine rounds of chemotherapy.
“The doctors and nurses would always make him feel more comfortable,” Maria said. “His Child Life Specialist, Alyssa, explained the whole process of his treatment to him. After she talked to him, he was so much calmer.”
Having a solid support system at Lurie Children’s proved valuable for Eric and his family as they coped with difficult times outside the hospital. “During the process of his treatment, we had two major losses in our family, including Eric’s grandma. I know losing her was very hard for him.”
In April 2021, after nearly two years of treatment, Eric and his family had reason to celebrate: He completed chemotherapy, and rang the end-of-chemo bell at the hospital with Maria by his side.
“Everybody was proud, happy and excited for him,” Maria said. “It was emotional for me.”
As Eric continues to be followed by his brain tumor team, his family says he has already given them a lasting lesson in perseverance. “Throughout all of this, Eric never gave up,” Maria said. “Even when things got tough, and he would cry and get frustrated, he never gave up.”
His family is also grateful for the excellent care that has allowed Eric to be a kid again. “I’ve recommended Lurie Children’s to family members of mine, because it’s the best hospital to go to get your child checked out if something is wrong,” Maria said. “They give the best treatments available for any situation, and they are really here for both the patients and their families.”