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  • A Young Neuroblastoma Survivor's Parents Recall Compassionate Care: Griffin's Story

    griffin(2)Griffin, now an energetic 3-year-old  

    Diagnosed at 8 weeks, Griffin is too young to remember having cancer. But that isn't so for his parents, Melissa and John.

    From the time Griffin was born, John had always thought his son's belly was abnormally large. So at Griffin's 8-week check up, Melissa asked their pediatrician if this was normal. The x-ray the doctor ordered showed Griffin's liver was enlarged.

    He immediately sent the family to Children's Hospital Boston.

    For Melissa, the first days at Children's were a blur. "We were in shock. We always thought that something was wrong" she explains, "but we never thought cancer; Griffin was just a baby."

    After the test results came in, pediatric oncologist Dr. Lindsay Frazier met with the family to explain Griffin's cancer. This was a hard conversation for Griffin's parents, but Children's "had a psychologist available to speak with us, which helped emotionally," says Melissa. "And Dr. Frazier even called us at home the following Saturday to ask how we were managing."

    Griffin's cancer was called neuroblastoma, a malignant tumor most commonly diagnosed in children under the age of 5. His was stage 4, which meant it had spread from the tumor to different areas of his body, including his liver.

    Griffin's care was transferred to Dr. Suzanne Shusterman and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Eileen Duffy-Lind, two of the neuroblastoma specialists at Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Care.

    They prescribed eight cycles of chemotherapy over the course of seven months which was successful in shrinking the tumor. Surgery was then arranged to remove the remaining tumor. By the time he was 10 months old, Griffin had beaten cancer.

    Today, Griffin is your typical 3-year-old: full of energy, hard to keep still and in love with chocolate ice cream. He started preschool last winter and enjoys reading books, painting and playing with pirates and Batman.

    The family returns to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for regular check ups, where Griffin happily plays on the boat in the waiting area of the Jimmy Fund Clinic.

    Looking back, Melissa feels lucky to live so close to Dana-Farber. "I know it sounds odd, but I looked forward to going to the Jimmy Fund Clinic because we genuinely felt that everyone there cared about us. It was a good place for us during that period of our lives."

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