For two months, we thought it was a stomach problem. Zhe Xian, then in Primary 1, would complain about severe tummy aches and vomit once daily. Occasionally he would complain of dizziness or headache that leave him incapacitated. He was not able to eat or drink for the whole morning. He has to miss school. Doctor and hospital visits became a routine, he saw various gastro specialists. But the symptoms of vomiting, headache/dizziness and tummy pain was getting worse and worse. On 8th May 2014, he was admitted to the A&E department after vomiting 7 times within a few hours. The CT scan revealed a brain tumour of about 4cm.
As doctors suspected the tumour was malignant, he had brain surgery 2 days later. It was confirmed as a high grade medulloblastoma cancer tumour. Without further treatment, the cancer was certain to come back. Zhe Xian’s next 14 months of treatment was definitely not an easy ride for him and the whole family. He could only drink very little fluid, his sleep was interrupted by powerful stomach pains, he developed a fear of tube and needle insertions, he lost his hair and around 40% mid to high frequency hearing on both ears, his vision was impaired. In July 2015, Zhe Xian finally finished his treatment. However he still requires regular MRI scans and follow-up with oncology, gastro, eye and ENT doctors as well regular physiotherapy
Life in the family has defintely been affected greatly, seeing our son suffer before and during treatment, and still suffering. Our younger daugter’s psychology has also been affected as all the love and attention shifted to her elder brother. In September this year, Zhe Xian has returned to his primary school, after months in Children’s Cancer Foundation PALS (Place for Academic Learning and Support) which helped prepare him for a smooth transition back to a mainstream school. Since he still feels some pain and weakness on his legs occasionally, we have arranged with his primary school to arrange a buddy to help him with his school bag and accompany him to take the lift to/from class. His mother is fetching him to/from school daily and she needs to be there to feed him during recess time. Since he can only take small and frequent feed as his stomach pain is still an issue, hence the school allows him to have a slightly longer recess period than the rest. He does crave for some of the food he loves like salad but he is still not allowed to eat them due to his low immune system.
We joined the Brain Tumour Society (Singapore) in December 2014 to seek help and share knowledge with others with similar conditions. Both Zhe Xian and his sister enjoyed the activities organised by BTSS a lot, such as the Brainy Car Rally and the BTSS Art camp
(written by Zhe Xian’s father)