MAPLEWOOD — Toddlers fall. Children falling and hitting their head is fairly common. But imagine if instead of the emergency room doctor finding a large bump or bruises, he finds a tumor the size the size of an apple inside your child’s tiny head. This was the reality for the family of 2-year-old Henry Springer this summer.
A July 14 fall prompted Henry’s parents, Emily and Matt Springer, of Maplewood, to take him Dayton Children’s Hospital’s emergency room for fear he had a concussion.
Emily said a neurology appointment had already been set for the following week, after the fall, because he seemed a little unsteady on his feet and had some shakiness with his hands, but no major signs were present.
“But Henry decided that he wanted to be seen quicker,” Emily said. “(Doctors) say it was almost a blessing that he did fall and that we brought him in when we did. He had so much pressure and fluid on his brain that was not able to be drained properly because of the tumor. The tumor doctors found on Henry’s left frontal lobe of his brain was the size of an apple. The high-grade glioma cancer he was diagnosed with is in either stage three or four. and that is what caused him to get worse really quick.”
Luckily, Emily said, scans of his spinal cord did not show signs of any tumors. But Henry’s condition became progressively worse in a very short period of time. This caused him to undergo an 11-hour emergency surgery to remove the high-grade glioma tumor at Dayton Children’s.
According to website https://www.aboutkidshealth.ca, a high grade glioma is a type of tumor that occurs in the brain and spinal cord that grows rapidly, and means it three or four stage cancer. The website notes these tumors occur much more frequently in teenagers than in very young children, with only 150 to 180 children diagnosed in North America each year.
“I don’t know how long he felt like that (before the fall) and he just didn’t think anything of it. But his speech was very much effected, as well, from the surgery. He had been talking in short little sentences and was pretty easy to understand. And then (after the surgery) he didn’t say anything to us for about two and a half weeks, and then he started making some sounds and progressively started saying more words. Now he is almost back to the way he was (verbally) before the surgery,” Emily said.
The surgeon is fairly certain he was able to remove the whole tumor, she said. After the surgery, the entire right side of his body was paralyzed for a couple of weeks before Henry was ready to begin therapy.
“His leg, his foot, his arm, his hand, he just acted like he didn’t know what to do with it, on his right side. That took a couple of weeks before he started to show any interest to do anything, and we are still working pretty much four days a week with physical and occupational therapy to kind of get that back,” Emily said.
Henry has had three surgeries since July to remove the tumor; place a central port, to avoid constantly putting an IV into Henry’s body; place a feeding tube in his stomach, to ensure he consumes enough food; and a VP shunt under his skin in his head, to help relieve pressure by draining fluid down to his belly.
At this time, Henry’s treatment calls for a year and a half of chemotherapy treatment. He begins his third round this week. Radiation would be the best treatment, Emily said, but it’s not an option for children under age 3, or longer if possible, because of the negative effects on a growing child.
They have been told it is hard to determine the prognosis with this type of cancer, but Henry remains in good spirits despite the tumultuous past few months, his mother said. Henry, who is the youngest of brothers, Griffin, 6, and Eli, 4, and his family are taking it day by day.
“We still, occassionally, are kind of like, ‘OK, we can wake up from this dream now’,” Emily said in a matter of fact tone. “But he is doing so well with everything that has been thrown at him. He hardly ever complains or cries, or even when we are constantly back and forth the doctors and hospital. He is all smiles and very polite with the all of the doctors and nurses and always saying, ‘thank you and please.’ He’s definitely one of a kind.”
Even though Emily is a nurse herself, in the labor and delivery area of a hospital, she says she just wants be Henry’s mom, and appreciates the nurses who come to help some with his medical care.
To help with expenses, a “Hugs for Henry Benefit” is planned from 7 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Sacred Heart Parish Activity Center, 9377 State Route 119 West, Anna. Pre-sale tickets are available for $12 at www.eventbrite.com., and $15 at the door. The meal includes barbecue pork, baked beans, potatoes and coleslaw. There will be a cash bar, beer and water available. Several donated items will be available at the action, such as a trip for two to Nashville, Tennessee, tickets to The Ohio State Buckeyes and Bengals football games, a grill, jewelry and more. The band Kevin & the Others will be the entertainment for the evening. All ages are welcome.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.