by Norman Zimmerman
Our son Erik was diagnosed with a brain tumor in November of 1992 at the age of 17 months. Erik appeared to be a very lively and normal child for the first year of his life. When he was about 15 months old, we began to notice that something was wrong. It started when he wouldn't put any weight on his legs and would lose balance when standing, and he began to throw up in the early morning.
After many, many doctor visits we finally had an appointment with a neurologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Erik had a complete examination and a CAT scan that didn't show anything, but the doctor wanted Erik to have an MRI just to make sure. Erik's MRI was on November 16th, and we received a call the next evening that turned our world upside down for the next two years: our son had a brain tumor. Erik was admitted into Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for surgery, and a few days later, he was taken back into surgery to have a shunt put in to drain fluids from around his brain into his stomach.
We were able to bring Erik home for a short time before he had to go back for his first chemotherapy treatment on December 12th. His first treatment was very rough, and it wasn't until the second treatment that they found the right drug to fight the nausea he was feeling. Erik was due to go back in for his second treatment on January 11th, but on the 7th, Erik received one of the greatest gifts possible: a baby brother named Jason.
Jason was such a ray of sunshine for everyone. Erik received chemotherapy for the next 14 months. His protocol was to be every two weeks, but the distance in between treatments grew longer each time. His blood count would go so low that it was taking longer and longer for it to go back to normal. In January of 1994, Erik began the testing that would continue every three months. At that point the doctors found that he had a slight hearing loss in both ears. After much discussion, it was decided that he would not continue to receive chemotherapy, and plans were made to start radiation therapy.
Erik finished his treatment on May 17th, 1994. Since that time Erik has been cancer free, but does deal with many of the long-term effects of the treatment that saved his life. His brother has been a gift to Erik and his healing. Erik learned to walk for the first time at 2-1/2 years old; in fact, Jason and Erik learned together. Through those years and even in the present, Erik strives to keep up with his brother. It was always the answer to keep him trying just a little bit harder.
We would like to have continued prayers for Erik as he approaches adulthood. Erik's recent problem has been the loss of hearing in his left ear. We are told that this is from the radiation that he received almost 11 years ago. Erik is currently in 7th grade, and his favorite subjects are science and social studies. If anyone would like information on Erik's story or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Erik and Norma Zimmerman