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Discovery of the tumor: How did this happen?

Hunter's First Hunt

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Discovery of the tumor is just the beginning of this amazing story.

Hunter Mills Summer 2004; just before discovery.
BBBBRRRRRUUUMMM bbbbbrrrrruuuuummmm!

Hunter was only 15 months old when we discovered the tumor. He was a normal curious 15 month old; he did not display any symptoms. We found out about the tumor because of an incidental accident.

The family was gathered at home for a visit with Opa (Great Grandpa Henry), who was visiting from New York. We were all talking together in the living room. Hunter was playing in his room with some friends. I could hear the kids playing along together happily from where I was sitting in the living room. Then, we all heard a big crash down the stairs and screaming and crying.

Dad (Sean) reached the bottom of the stairs first. He immediately picked Hunter up into his arms. Hunter had fallen down the 13 steps of stairs to the bottom baby gate. Hunter looked like he'd been in a boxing match with a swollen face and eye brows and some small cuts. As we attended to his wounds we asked, "How did this happen?"

My Father (Grandpa Mike) saw it all. Grandpa had gone upstairs to check on Addy, who was struggling with the computer (which had been acting up and was giving us some difficulty). Grandpa had figured out how to open the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs and also the one at the top of the stairs, but he did not lock the gates after passing through. Hunter had toddled out of his room away from his playmates and climbed the stairs. Just as Grandpa heard his little voice at the top of the stairs he began walking toward him. Then, Hunter yanked at the loose top baby gate and pulled it off as he fell downward down the stairs. Grandpa saw Hunter shoot down the stairs face first like superman smashing into the bottom gate with his face. Grandpa felt very bad and stupid.

We decided to take Hunter to the ER for examination.

In the ER we expressed our concern about the impact on his face, the swelling, and our fears about internal bleeding or pressure on the brain from internal swelling. Hunter was still a little baby so, we were very concerned about his head and neck being jarred around from the fall. The ER Doctors agreed to do a CAT scan. They ran the CAT scan and we waited.

The police came to talk to us and interview all of us because of the nature of the wound - head trauma on a baby. By the time they got to interviewing me, they stopped the interview after my first sentence. I guess that we all basically told the story indentically. They saw no reason to interigate me while I was waiting to see if my baby was severly injured when we were all obviously being honest.

The Doctors came back to us with the results. They told us that Hunter woke up from sedation in the middle of the CAT scan so the pictures were not accurate. He was wiggling around quite a bit. They also told us that although the pictures were not perfectly accurate, they were able to see that there is no swelling or bleeding internally. But, that the radiologist spotted something unusual in the back of the brain by the 4th ventricle. They pursuaded us to have an MRI taken, which would be a clearer image. We agreed. We waited while Hunter went through the MRI.

The Doctors decided to admit Hunter for observation through the night. By morning, they told us the results of the MRI. Hunter had a brain tumor.

Sean and I just couldn't believe the results and we felt like something just wasn't right. Our child was being whisked away by doctors to do these tests and when we were told the results -a brain tumor- we just couldn't believe it. I felt like I was being sucked into a cruel joke or a nightmarish movie that just wasn't true.

Hunter dances, "Hit me with your best shot! Fire Away!"

Hunter pre-battle
I'm a happy and very active little boy. Catch me if you can...

At the end of chemo
If I could only live on ice-cream. Yummy!


Grandpa Mike says, "I ask God to use me, but God, please don't ever let me be so stupid again."

I say, "God is a good God who loves us, protects us, and wants to heal us from our broken hearts to our broken bones. God started healing Hunter from this brain tumor before we even knew about it by forcing us into a situation that brought about discovery. God knew it was in there. He brought it to light. We trusted his healing process as we depended on him to assist the Doctors hands in surgery and to assist the Doctors decisions and direction for Hunter's chemotherapy. God directed the course and he used all of us to ensure Hunter's survival."

I also say, "God never gives us more than we can handle. When this happened Sean and I were trying to conceive another baby; a brother or sister for Hunter to grow up with. I was even taking ovulation pills because I was becoming impatient with the gap of time. I found out that I was pregnant on the same day that I found out that Hunter had a brain tumor. Lilly was born one month after Hunter was done with the chemo.

I am so glad that I was able to devote my entire attention to Hunter as he went through the battle of chemo. He needed my arms wrapped around himself alone. I am so glad that I didn't get pregnant earlier in the year or in the month. It was not a good situation to enter a new, a very needy baby, into. I just can't imagine not being able to be there for Hunter because of having to go into labor or something and having to stay away from him because I was not physically able to be there.

God is not only taking care of Hunter but, he's taking care of all of us."

Dad says, "This is my second chance baby; a son that I can be with and raise with wisdom that I did not have in my younger years. No one, not anything, is taking him away from me."

The Doctors say, "It's a miracle. It's a miracle that the radiologist who looked at the first CAT scan was so detailed and accurate that they not only looked at the for front of the brain for bleeding and swelling but, they also looked at the entire brain and were able to detect such a small tumor."


The Doctors say, "According to statistics, Hunter has a 20%-40% chance of survival post chemo. If anyone is going to fit through that window of opportunity, it's going to be Hunter."

The Doctors say, "Finding a tumor like this, incidentally is just amazing. Most are found because the child begins to experience symptoms, but Hunter's tumor was so small and just starting to grow." The surgeon that removed the tumor, Dr. Seldon, said that he'd never removed a tumor like that that was found by accident. He also said that it was one of the smallest ever of it's kind. He reported good news to us after surgery, that as he pressed in toward the tumor, it came to him and he could clearly and easily pluck it out. He's confident that he got the whole thing.

Grandma and I agree that Hunter is going to be just fine. He is going to grow up and grow old. Someday after I'm even gone, he's going to be a big, tall, handsome, loving, caring man who has lived a good life. And when he's ready to go, he'll be Ok with it. He'll be ready. He'll be satisfied. It won't be a shock. It won't be in pain. It won't be in crippling mental or physical disability. It will just be in peaceful old age.