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Davis was a normal healthy active 5 year old little boy. On January 3rd Davis started screaming of excruciating abdominal pain. I rushed him to the emergency room thinking we were dealing with appendicitis. I knew something was wrong so I requested a CT scan of his abdomen. This is not something that physicians like to do on children but I insisted. He received the CT scan which showed a grade 4 liver laceration, which is bad news. They immediately rushed him by ambulance to Levine’s Children’s Hospital. When we arrived there we were then seen by multiple doctors.
We were then admitted to the hospital with later finding out that because he had a liver laceration and this usually happens a lot in child abuse cases we were place under watch for 4 days 24/7 for suspected child abuse. Jan 4th we were awaken by a team of doctors to find out that Davis’s blood level had decreased dramatically, so they want to perform a Liver angiogram on him to make sure his liver was not still bleeding. We received wonderful news that his liver was no longer bleeding. Jan 5th was a wonderful day because GOD placed and angel in our lives Dr. Stanford which was one of Davis’s doctors. She came in and talked to us about everything that happened and she didn’t feel like things were making sense. She then left his room to re-enter 20 minutes later. Dr. Stanford proceeded to pull up
Davis’s films on a computer to show us that on his CT scan it did not look like a normal liver laceration and she wanted to speak with a few doctors about some possible test to run. Jan 6th Davis would have more lab work drawn and also and ultrasound performed. Jan 8th we got some scary news that some lab work they had drawn on Davis that they use for tumor markers in the liver had come back very high normal range is between 4-8 and his was 42,000. They began to talk to us that this could be a tumor that had ruptured in his liver, but the thought was also that this is so rare and there is not a lot of data out there on the elevating lab work could be coming from the liver trying to repair itself.
Jan 10th we were given the news that we were going to be able to go home to return for more lab work on Jan. 14th. Jan 19th was one of the worst days we got the phone call that Davis’s lab work had come back and the number had doubled putting the tumor marker at 100,000. I immediately started researching the best hospitals to treat liver cancer and children. What I discovered was that the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, (CHOP) was the best and our angel that I mentioned earlier Dr. Stanford was from here and had previously worked here and had lots of connections in Philly.
They proceeded to tell us that Davis was scheduled for an MRI the following morning and had an appointment with oncology to follow his MRI in Charlotte. On Jan. 20th we took Davis to have his MRI and to see the oncologist. The oncologist proceeded to tell us that yes there was a 90% chance that this was indeed liver cancer and more than likely what they called hepatoblastoma. He told us he wanted to admit Davis to the hospital and they would need to act fast. We were then admitted to Levine’s again but momma bear was not at all happy about this decision.
Mom had already made an appointment with Dr. Stanford to talk with her about everything because from my medical knowledge the best for Davis was not in Charlotte. Momma bear and Dr. Stanford had a long talk and Davis was referred to one of the best pediatric surgeons and oncologist in the nation at (CHOP) Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. I then proceeded to talk with the oncologist that we wanted to leave and go somewhere else for a second opinion I don’t think he like this to much but I make the decisions not him. Davis received a CT scan of his lungs before we left Levine’s that night, with Davis’s type of cancer it starts in the liver and travels to the lungs next. We got home very late and packed our bags to leave for Philly the following morning.
January 21st, we got up early that morning loaded up and headed on our 8.5 hour journey to Philadelphia. Davis was so brave thru this whole process and we told him that we were going on a road trip to see some new doctors that were going to help us. On Jan.22nd we met with Davis’s oncologist Dr. John Maris that went over Davis’s treatment plan for cancer. Davis would receive 4 cycles 20 chemotherapy treatments then he would have 50% of his liver removed the entire right lobe and then received 2 more cycles 10 more chemotherapy treatments. Jan 23rd, Davis would have his liver biopsy and port-a-catheter placement. The biopsy would determine for sure that his cancer was hepatoblastoma and the pot-a-catheter was to provide him access for blood work and chemotherapy. On Jan. 26th Davis would start his first cycles of chemotherapy.
For Davis’s chemotherapy he would get 3 different kinds of chemo over a 2 day period where we would stay in the hospital for these 2 days due to how hard the chemo was on his body. With one type he would receive 18 hours worth of hydration to help his kidneys. Chemotherapy is toxic to the rest of the body but to kill the tumors it is the only option. Also, one of the chemotherapy drugs that Davis received we were told could cause hearing loss and Davis did loose some of his hearing that now requires him to wear hearing aids. The next 3 months would include multiple doctors visits for chemotherapy, just a check up, or x-rays, overnight hospital stays for chemotherapy or fever, several trips back to Philly for scans and meeting with doctors, and trying our best to live a normal life for Davis. On April 22nd Davis had over 50% of his liver removed. His surgeon told us before his surgery that this could take him anywhere from 2 hours to over 8 hours but he promised he would treat Davis like he was his own son and do whatever it took to get the tumor removed.
Davis’s surgery only took about 3.5 hours and we were so blessed because everything went smoothly. We were blessed beyond belief, Davis is one amazing little boy. Davis had some pain after surgery and only took pain medication for 3 days after his surgery. In most cases children stay a minimum of five days after a post liver resection but our champion only stay four days and was released from the hospital, even his doctor was amazed at how well he did. We came back to our home away from home on Sunday, Davis and the rest of us took it easy for the next few days. Davis did wake up dancing on Monday morning and we had to tell him to take it easy. A week later we walked to the Rocky stairs which was not to far from our home away from home and Davis climbed all the way to the top of the Rocky stairs.
Davis would start his after surgery chemotherapy almost 4 weeks after his surgery to leave him with only 10 treatments to go. Several weeks after surgery, chemotherapy treatments, and MRI we met with his oncologist that looked at the MRI, lab work, and pathology from his liver and felt like all tumor was removed and everything looked great. Davis’s plan is to continue for the next three years to have follow up blood work monthly, x-rays, and scans, his doctor says that normally if you can make it three years without a reoccurrence you can usually celebrate. So June 2018 we will pray daily for a celebration.
Please remember that we never know what tomorrow may bring so always tell your loved ones you love them, don’t get mad at the small things in life, and always try to tell yourself to not judge others because we never know what they may be going through. Davy and I want to pay it forward and help others and are involved in multiple foundations for childhood cancer, including our own Dancing Davis Shaking off Cancer Foundation.
If there is one thing I can ask of everyone and that is to pay it forward, whether it is to give a few hours of your time, make a donation, or small acts of kindness you never know how much this means to others. Please continue to pray for Davis and our family.