Tuesday, February 14, 2012

MRI & Hearing Results - Good And Bad News

Good news first: Mason's audiogram today showed the same results we've been seeing: his hearing isn't better, but it isn't worse, either. He was also finally able to get his ears cleaned out, which we have been trying to have done for somewhere around 8 months, now--ever since the inside of his ears peeled because of the radiation, and clogged up his ears.

Mason utterly refuses to let people anywhere near his ears. It's the only thing I haven't been able to reason with him about, no matter how much we've worked with him. I've just accepted that his ears are the final frontier, and he isn't letting anyone take that away from him. But they were pretty bad, so they have been trying to schedule someone to come clean them out during one of his MRI's when he would be asleep. The last two times, though, no one was available to come. But after stressing the point that it needed to get done, and making sure that the audiologist, ENT, oncologist, and care coordinator had all seen how bad his ears were, and knew how long we had been waiting for this to happen, it finally did.

They were able to get a HUGE clump of wax and peeled skin from each ear, one of them being rock hard. Poor boy! He says his ears feel much better now.

Now for the bad news: Mason's scan today wasn't clear. They found...something.
Below you'll see the saddest attempt at a computer drawing you've ever seen:

This is an attempt at the drawing Dr. Sato did for me when she explained where the "thing" is. This is looking at the brain from a top view. The bottom of the image is the back of Mason's brain (often described as a butterfly), the the blue circle is his brainstem, and the light grey circle represents where the main part of the tumor was back in 2010 (not including what spread to the side). The red dot represents the spot they found in the scan today.

It's very small (smaller than a quarter of an inch). Too small to know what it is yet. I was told not to assume it's a tumor, but not to write that off, either. I'm just going to list all the other things I was told, and you can make what you like out of it:

  • It doesn't have a defined edge, like most tumors do; it has more of a fuzzy edge.
  • When they do the MRI, they take pictures in "slices." Each slice is about 1/4" apart, so since this is smaller than 1/4", it's possible that it has been there for a while, and it was just between slides in the last scan.
  • They take the scans from side-to-side, front-to-back, and top-to-bottom. In most cases, a tumor would show up on at least two of these different views, but this thing only showed up on one.
  •  It is in the spot that the last tumor began growing, and is where medulloblastoma originates--his brainstem. (Okay, this one is from me, not the doctor.)
  • Because it's the brainstem, there are nerves and vessels there--one of which produces a liquid, which could be what it is.
  • It's too small to give him any symptoms so far, so that shouldn't be an indicator right now. But in a few weeks, if he starts having the same symptoms, or anything that worries me, I should call asap.
As of right now, there is nothing to be done. We have to give it time before the doctors can even know what it is, or how to treat it. And instead of waiting three months for another MRI, he'll have one in 6 weeks, and they will see what's going on. 

As for me, I'm reserving judgement (and worry) until six weeks from now when I know for sure. Until then, it's just a tiny dot in his head. Although we did listen to 'Live Like You Were Dying' by Tim McGraw on the way home--singing at the top of our lungs, with me in tears--and we'll be following Tim's example in a more kid-friendly way. :)


  1. Thanks for sharing Pene. It was so nice to see you and Mason yesterday. You probably didnt recognize who I am since I'm Talia's age...LOL. You are so strong and such an inspiration. Hope all the best for you and Mason!!

  2. Oh, Penelope! Not the news you wanted from this scan!! We will be praying a lot that everything turns out just fine. You are wise to try not to worry since there is nothing that can be done for a while. But, from one cancer parent to another... we all know those little nagging worries never quite go away, do they? :| And that's ok.... we'l be thinking of you - and we know what must be going on in your head.

    And if you have figured out a way to make those worries stop, let me know! I'd pay good money for that. :)

    Anyways - love to you guys!