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My Teenage Son’s Cancer Diagnosis Rocked My World

My 14-year-old received a scary diagnosis, and it changed my life.

By Chrissie Marie MasseyPublished 2 years ago 5 min read
Top Story - August 2022
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My Teenage Son’s Cancer Diagnosis Rocked My World
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

The year was 2014, and my life was full of shuffling kids to school and activities and working. I barely ever had time to sit down and relax.

One day, just as my feet hit the front door, my son Ricky told me he didn’t feel well. He said his side hurt, causing him to throw up. Ricky was never sick, and if he caught a virus, he never complained. He didn’t look well. As tired as I was from a 12-hour shift, I had to take him to the ER to figure out what was causing his pain.

Ricky’s Off To Surgery

When we arrived at the ER, they asked him a few questions. After examining him, the doctor told me they had to admit him. He thought it was his appendix, but he couldn’t be sure until the CT scan results returned.

They got us settled in his room. Another doctor arrived to let us know his appendix looked infected on the CT scan, so he must have surgery. He told me they would send his appendix to pathology to ensure it was just an infection. I asked what else it could be.

The doctor replied, “It could be cancer, but that would be very rare.”

They wheeled off my sweet 6’2, red-headed beautiful boy to surgery. I have never felt so helpless. I had two children born as preemies in the NICU, but this was different. Ricky was healthy. And now, he was in the hands of a doctor that barely spoke thirty words to me.

Ricky’s surgery took about an hour. The doctor said he should heal up just fine, just to take it easy for a few weeks. He wanted to keep him for a few days to monitor his pain.

Ricky felt better a few days later, and they sent us home. I thought our struggles were behind us, but they were just beginning.

By Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

Ricky Got Very Sick

He was only home a few days before he took a turn for the worse. I came home from work one day, and he looked ill. His skin looked strange, greenish almost, possibly grayish. He just didn’t look well. So, off to the ER we went again!

They took one look at him and admitted him to the pediatric unit. They ran a few tests and couldn’t figure out what was causing his intestinal issues. Finally, his pathology from his appendix came back.

“We have the pathology report on Ricky’s appendix,” the doctor said. “It’s cancer. We need to do a PET scan to determine if it has spread.”

“Cancer?’ I cried, “You told me that was rare, and I shouldn’t worry about it. Now, he’s sick, and you do not know how to fix it.”

“We think it may be in his intestines. But we won’t know for sure until the PET scan result come in,” the doctor said calmly.

“Okay,” I said, with tears in my eyes. I feared the worst, as my father died of cancer at the young age of twenty-eight.

As they took him back for the PET scan, my mind raced with worst-case scenarios. I couldn’t imagine how scared Ricky was. It was a lot for my 38-year-old mind. At fourteen, it would have been unbearable.

By National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

PET Scan Results Give Answers

After five agonizing hours, the doctor returned with answers. He said they saw a few tumors in a small section of Ricky’s large intestines. They would need to remove and reattach it so that he would have normal bowel function. Afterward, he would need a drain to remove any pus or infection around the tumor’s location.

So, not even two weeks after his first surgery, he needed another one. And this one would take hours to complete. As they took him off to surgery, I prayed. I was alone as my ex-husband watched our other children. Finally, my 16-year-old son came to sit with me. We talked about random things, which helped keep my mind from going to dark places.

Finally, six hours later, Ricky was out of surgery. The doctor said it was a success, but there was bad news. Ricky would have to stay in the hospital until he could eat solid foods and pass a bowel movement. In my mind, I thought that it wouldn’t take long.

But it did.

By National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Recovery Was Hard

Ricky stayed in the hospital for four weeks. During that time, he went from 160 pounds to barely 130 (at 6’2). I worried about his weight, but the doctor assured me once he could eat, the weight would return.

During week three, Ricky started eating well. He started smiling and acting like himself. He would cry to go home, but other than that, he was doing well. Finally, after three weeks and six days, his doctor said he was clear to go home as long as his PET scan was clear. Oh, how I prayed. I leaned on my faith as I cried to God for a miracle.

The next day, the doctor came into his room smiling. He said he was in remission. They do not see any suspicious tumors in his intestines or anywhere else. He recommended Pet scans every year for five years, then every three years.

Slowly, after we went home, Ricky gained weight. After six months, you wouldn’t have guessed the cancer battle he went through. The health crisis changed my life.

The nurses who took care of my son are the real heroes. They comforted him when he was in pain and scared, and would hold my hand if I felt helpless. His Doctor (Dr. Michael Brown) did not have the best bedside manners, but he was an amazing surgeon. He refused to give up until he had answers to save my precious boy. And lastly, I learned to lean on God for answers.

Now, he’s 22, and he’s been cancer-free since his hospital release. I praise God every day for giving my son his health back. Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below. Don’t forget to follow me to read more of my stories.

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Originally published on Medium: https://medium.com/the-memoirist/my-teenage-sons-cancer-diagnosis-rocked-my-world-efb8cff9b733

children
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About the Creator

Chrissie Marie Massey

Chrissie has spent the last 20 years writing online for several major news outlets. When not writing, you’ll find her watching a Lifetime movie, wearing her favorite PJs with a frozen soda in hand.

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Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (6)

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  • Scarlin2 years ago

    I am grateful to the angel workers, to keep away from illness, to love life, and to wish all the children in the world to grow up safely and healthily.

  • Aisha Shamim 2 years ago

    May he be healthy and happy always...

  • Helen Stuart2 years ago

    i am so glad that your son is healthy now

  • Thank you for sharing your story

  • Kat Thorne2 years ago

    What a terrible thing to have to go through. Thank you for sharing your story.

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