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
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
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
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