Thursday, March 5, 2009

Carter's Story...

For those of you that don't already know, or are looking for additional's some information on Carter's diagnosis/prognosis:

First, let me tell you that I am, by no means, a doctor (I don't even play one on TV!). I'm just going to do my best to relay to you the latest information that I have on my little Carter-Man as I have it relayed to me.

In early February 2009, Carter Harris (age 5 and son to Courtney Sale Harris and Skip Harris) started having random moments where one of his eyes would cross in toward the other. After a few days, his parents/friends/family started to notice a more frequent trend to this eye crossing. Courtney took him to a pediatric ophthalmologist in Richmond, where they were told that he needed glasses and that the eye crossing could possibly be attributed to a few viruses he had recently been dealing with and that all should go back to normal in about two weeks. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

After almost two weeks and several other symptoms popping up (slurred/slow speech, excessive drooling, extreme loss of equilibrium and some loss of fine motor skills), Courtney took him back to his pediatrician (Dr. A Bradshaw @ ABC Pediatrics - who is PHENOMENAL) at which time the Dr. ordered a CT Scan of the brain to rule out any tumors, etc. Nothing in the results seemed to be of concern.

...Back to waiting out the remainder of the "approximately two weeks until everything gets back to normal following recent viral issues"....Carter was still showing the symptoms of something that needed to be addressed and further looked into. Courtney pressed on with the Pediatrician and was able to obtain a work-in appointment with Dr. Bradshaw's Pediatric Neurologist that visits her office once a month. She was in on Friday, February 27, 2009. After the Pediatric Neurologist administered some extensive neurological testing, she didn't like what she saw and wanted to have an MRI done of the brain. In Fredericksburg, the waiting period for such a test would have exceeded 7-10 days. The Pediatric Neurologist chose to do a "direct-admit" to INOVA Fairfax Hospital in NoVa to ensure that testing be done STAT.

Carter was admitted to INOVA FFX on Friday night (2/27/09) and was given an MRI that next morning. The results of the MRI showed a fairly large tumor located on his brain stem. More specifically, it is referred to as a BRAIN STEM GLIOMA. Due to the positioning of the tumor, it is inoperable. Biopsying the tumor would be too dangerous. Additional MRI testing of his spine - administered this morning - (being that the spine is so closely related and centrally located to the brain stem) shows that there is a 99.9% chance that the tumor has not spread to other parts of Carter's body.

He and his parents (et. al.) have been up and down the I95 corridor since last Friday and will continue this trend for the next few months. He got his Pick Line put in today (a semi-permanent port put into his arm so that medications can very easily be administered on a regular basis without having to constantly IV this little boy). He will need to be sedated for each and every radiation treatment which begin on Monday, March 9, 2009. He will receive radiation Monday through Friday for the next six weeks. At the three to four week mark, the doctors (both Oncologists and Neurologists) are interested in getting Carter involved in a case study at the National Institute of Health (NIH) located in Bethesda, Maryland. These case studies provide the latest treatment/medicinal options available to certain medical conditions. The doctors are very hopeful that these latest breaks in technology will help to manage Carter's condition.

Carter is still receiving intensive steroid treatment in addition to radiation in hopes of exploring every avenue available in order to shrink this tumor with success. Although chemotherapy may have to be used, they are trying to avoid that at all costs. The ultimate goal is to shrink the tumor to a manageable size so that Carter can continue to live his wonderfully, innocent life with the great enthusiasm that his intelligent little mind always has!

Carter remains in good spirits. He's about as afraid as any 5 year old in his situation would be, but he's been such a trooper through all this. Sure, he misses the continuity of seeing his classmates at school each day and regular play dates, etc. But he's been a very brave 5 year old. His family, friends and I are very proud of him for that!

I will continue to keep you posted on the goings on of this crusade toward a healthy Carter Harris as it unfolds. There are armies of "angels" praying for this little boy and his family/friends. We are working on several benefits to try to help offset the family's medical bills as much as possible. This is going to be a very long road on so many levels. Your support is very appreciated. I will keep you up to date on ways that you can help this family get through this. It truly does "take a village" in most cases. There has been a HUGE outpouring of support from so many people and I know it has meant and will continue to mean a great deal to Courtney and her family.

Thank you and please check back frequently for updates, as I will do my best to keep things current. God Bless you all and God Bless Carter W. Harris and family!

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