In early September, after weeks of unexplained illness, Michael arrived at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) with his mother and grandmother hoping for answers that no one else could give.
What had started as a visit to a pediatrician soon became a trip to the emergency room, MRIs, and brain surgery. As night turned into day, Michael's doctors discovered a tumor blocking the fluid that should be draining from his brain. The excess fluid explained the weeks of nausea, vomiting, and headaches and once it was draining they were able to go in and remove the tumor.
In the days that followed Michael's family began the journey that no family wants to go on, as doctors talked about tumors, blastomas, chemotherapy, and radiation. The doctors were optimistic, outlining a treatment plan. A week and a half long stay at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD) was filled with visits from family and friends, neurologists, oncologists, nurses, social workers, as well as MRIs, CAT scans, surgery, and lots of yogurt and juice.
After a few days at home preparing for port surgery and the start of chemotherapy, on Sept 25 Michael's incision began "weeping" and they headed back to DHMC a week earlier than planned. After more stitches and an another MRI the doctors discovered that the small tumors they hoped to eradicate had grown. Suddenly, the timeline for treatment was moved up. Instead of waiting a week and putting in the port (Broviac) and then starting chemotherapy, the neurologists and oncologists planned a double surgery for Sept 28 to insert a shunt to aid the brain in draining fluid and place the port that would carry the tumor fighting medicine. Michael came through the surgery amazingly. A few days of rest and monitoring at CHaD and then he would be able to return home on Oct 2 before his first session.
The few days back at home went by uneventfully. A visit or two from the visiting nurse, visits from friends, and lots of yummy food. Thursday night he showed off his Spiderman muscles in a new costume and hung out with his cousins before the big day.
Friday, Oct 5, feeling good and ready to fight, Michael, Mama Lisa, and Mema Joy once more headed north to DHMC. Michael threw-up when they got to the hospital and his incision felt wet, so the doctors ordered a quick MRI, an x-ray, and a CT scan. All looked normal and chemo was planned for the next day.
Saturday morning came quickly with chemo planned for later in the afternoon. It had been exactly one month since the first visit to the ER. Michael was tired from being up all night and after eating some he took a nap and Mama and Memaw headed to the cafeteria for lunch. When they returned they found Michael’s room filled with medical professionals treating him for a major seizure. Soon Daddy, grandparents, and aunties were on the road to support Lisa and Michael. The next 24 hours were filled with conversations with doctors, an EEG, regular checks by all sorts of medical professionals, more family and friends, and lots of tears. Michael lay quietly occasionally squeezing a finger. By Sunday afternoon, he was alert, signing I Love You, giving thumbs up, and pointing to books he wanted to hear. On Monday he was ready for chemo and food. Tuesday and Wednesday saw the removal of the breathing tube, first words, and pancakes. He completed his first round of chemo and was sent home for a week on Oct 22 after a 17 day stay.
Lisa, as a stay-at-home mom, has been able to be with Michael throughout the entire ordeal, but Daddy Matt needs to return to Brattleboro frequently to work. So many people have been so supportive with prayers and kind words, helpful with gas cards and gift cards, and thoughtful with food and gifts.
So he can be with Michael as much as possible Matt has had to turn down bus trips that are the main source of household income. As summer turns to fall his mowing jobs are wrapping up and plowing has not yet begun, but bills continue to arrive.
Matthew, Lisa, and Michael have strong ties to the Brattleboro area. Both parents grew up here and all of their parents and siblings live here. The families are active members of three churches, belong to clubs and groups, and have many friends. Michael attracts attention wherever he goes with his radiant and friendly personality and his mother’s outgoing nature. They are the living embodiment of “a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet”. Everyday the family is approached by friends, acquaintances, and strangers (thank you Facebook) inquiring about Michael’s health and offering assistance.
As a family we had held off starting a Go Fund Me page in order to get our feet under us and get a handle on our new normal. But the time has come. As Michael moves forward with regular treatments at DHMC, physical therapy at Grace Cottage, and eventually visits to Boston for treatment at MassGeneral Hospital, the family’s financial needs will grow. No one wants to have to ask for help, but since you offered…
Matthew, Lisa, and Michael Vose
**A trust account has been set-up on Michael's behalf by Dart Everett, his maternal grandfather. All money from this GoFundMe is deposited directly into that account. Dart is authorized to withdraw money for expenses Matt and Lisa may incur.**
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