Meet Seth: A junior in high school, basketball manager, and survivor...

Seth's first day of being a junior in high school on August 16, 2016.
Seth with fellow brain tumor survivors, Maddie and Nick, at the 4th Annual Team Jack Foundation Gala in Lincoln, Nebr.
Seth's 16th MRI from his Dec 1, 2015. The oblong portion is the tumor and cyst is the black circle to the left of it.
Seth is so strong.

Meet Seth: A junior in high school, basketball manager, and survivor...

Thursday, September 1, 2016

On September 9, 2012, 13 year old Seth Ostrander was diagnosed with Pilocytic Astrocytoma Grade 1 brain tumor.

“Brain tumor never crossed our minds and I really don't know why.....I guess family history of headaches and other illnesses kept us from believing or thinking the worse.”

Melissa Ostrander, mother of Seth, assumed nerves since he was starting 7th grade and a new school. He would be fine during the day, so maybe it was even early morning migraines that plague many members of his family. He started school and football practice. He would come home and fall asleep on couch every night for a week.  He then complains of headaches all the time with sleep being the only relief. It was then that his family decided it was time for a doctor visit. They do concussion test and draw blood, everything comes back fine, even mono test, but maybe it is mono they tell them. Negative.  Seth’s mother suggests West Nile, in which she had been diagnosed with several years previously and remembers similar symptoms.  They test, they wait five days for results.  Meanwhile he continues to deteriorate and is home from school sleeping all the time, and is only awake to eat three meals and talk quietly to his mother from the couch but would quickly be sleeping before his mother can respond.  They secretly hoped for West Nile or perhaps a false negative mono test. What else could it be?  The West Nile comes back negative. They decide to schedule him a CT which wouldn't be for five more days, but before they made it Seth fell and couldn’t remember anything from that morning, so they rushed to the ER.

“We were told he had a brain tumor the size of walnut that was mid-brain and that the amount of spinal fluid was the cause of the headaches and sleepiness. What if we had waited one more day?  I try to not think about that,” said Melissa.

He was instantly put in an ambulance and taken to Children's Hospital in Omaha which, for the Ostranders, is a two and a half hour drive from their home in Juanita, Nebraska. He spent 10 days in the hospital and had three brain procedures. Two days later he had a craniotomy during which the surgeon was only able to remove 40 percent of the tumor. The tumor is located between his optical nerves and when removing the tumor, doctors were careful to avoid damaging Seth’s eyesight. Because of the hydrocephalus (which was causing the headaches and sleepiness) he needed a shunt placed in his brain to help keep the spinal fluid draining. He had that procedure several days after the main surgery and then was released two days later.  Seth continued to be monitored by MRI and had a series of vision test regularly to keep track of the tumor and any possible regrowth. In December 2012, Seth received the news that the tumor had some slight regrowth and had developed or formed some cysts. This type of tumor is known to do this.

By July 2014, Seth completed 14 months of chemotherapy. In December, Seth's 13th MRI showed tumor stability and he "graduated" to six month scans. He started ninth grade and although he is unable to play sports, like basketball, he still got to hang out with the team as one of the managers.

In June 2015, Seth hit a milestone.  He turned 16 and got his driver's license. His MRI in June still showed tumor stability. In July, however, he started having headaches and went in for an additional MRI. One of the cysts was starting to fill back up with fluid. On December 1, his MRI showed that the cyst had significantly filled up and was now about the same size as his egg sized tumor. That wasn't the worse part though. His tumor had grown three mm since chemotherapy ended 15 months before. He was now back to three month scans. Not the news his family wanted to hear.  Seth continued to have headaches, but only occasionally, so the plan was to monitor and wait.

During the waiting process, Seth experienced headache episodes (those dreaded squeezing headaches) every few weeks and some occasional tiredness, but not the dropping off to sleep wherever and whenever like three years ago and no blurred vision yet.

The week leading up to school four years ago Seth and his family were watching the Olympics and anticipating him starting 7th grade. Now the week leading up to the start of school brings memories of him telling his mom each day that he woke up with a headache in the early morning hours.

Seth started school on August 16…a junior.  He is scheduled for MRI’s now every six months.  Since his diagnosis, he has never made a full six months without some concern, but his family is hopeful that he will continue to enjoy school, his friends and all the normal activities a high school student should look forward too, despite his brain tumor.

“Pediatric brain tumor diagnoses continue to happen...more and more often it seems. Maybe it seems that way because this is our life now or maybe because there really are more cases than ever before,” writes Melissa Ostrander.

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Want to help kids like Seth?  Here is how:

  • Vote ANDY DAILY to help Team Jack win $100,000 for pediatric brain cancer research.
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