Grady is cancer free!

Grady is cancer free!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Grady Simants is a 7-year old little boy from North Platte, Nebr.  He loves all the things that kids his age should love.  When asked what he likes to do he says, “Ride my bike and play baseball.”  But for a while, his parents weren’t sure if that was something that he would get to do.

At just six years old, Grady suffered had headaches, fatigue and nausea for six weeks. Initially, doctors diagnosed him with Epstein-Barr virus after doing some bloodwork, which can cause mononucleosis.  But he didn’t get better. Grady’s symptoms became worse.

On March 29, they took him to the emergency room at Great Plains Health for a CT scan, where they first discovered the tumor, between the size of a golf ball and a baseball, on Grady’s brainstem.  It was their worst nightmare.  It was medulloblastoma, a fast-growing, high-grade tumor located in the cerebellum.  The American Brain Tumor Association states that medulloblastomas account for around 18 percent of all pediatric brain tumors.

Grady was taken in for surgery on April 2 at Children’s Hospital in Omaha. It took six and a half hours to complete his surgery where they completely removed the tumor.

Along with occupational, physical and speech therapy at the Madonna Center, Grady also received chemotherapy to kill any residual cancer cells.  Jodi, Grady’s mother, stayed with Grady as he continued to recover in the hospital in Omaha for several weeks.

“I did a lot of traveling with Grady, so Bill could stay home and work. During this time, I found out that the chemo he is getting was actually the same chemo they give to adults, just a different dosage.   I also found out that one side effect of chemo is the diagnosis of leukemia. So, I’m watching this chemo that’s going to cure the brain cancer, but then there is a possibility that my son will end up with another cancer.  There was no other option for us at that point, we had to take that gamble,” said Jodi, Grady’s mother.

On June 14, 2016, Grady had, what his parents hope, his last chemotherapy treatment.

On August 31, Grady had his end of treatment MRI, all scans came back clear.  He is now considered cancer-free, but they will continue to do scans every three months for several years, eventually moving these to six month scans and finally annual scans.   For the rest of his life, Grady will be monitored with yearly scans.

Although cancer-free, for his parents, the fear of a reoccurrence is always there.

Although they are very excited for the news, it still seems surreal.  For the past 17 months, their lives have revolved around Grady’s brain tumor and now he is cancer free.  Both Bill and Jodi get that same overwhelming feeling they got just over a 17 months previously.

“Everyone talks about how our children are most precious resource so I wonder why more hasn’t gone into it [research].  I have my child now and I know there are parents out there that don’t and my heart breaks for them.  I look at my child and I know that one day there is a very real possibility that I am still going to lose my child to cancer.  The odds aren’t in my favor that I won’t. A large factor in that is the treatment he has endured because it’s not designed for children,” Bill said.

But for now, they are going to get back to the normal, although a new normal for them.  On August 16, Grady started his first day of second grade.  Grady and his family continue to be strong advocates for the disease and the Team Jack Foundation.

Add new comment