Being told your child has cancer is a nightmare for anyone with children. On July 7, my 3-year-old son, Owen, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The first 24 hours were very surreal. I can remember physicians and nurses talking with us, but not really hearing a word they said. After a few days we received some great news: he had an excellent prognosis, but a long road ahead.
One of Owen’s first big encounters with the radiology department was getting his PICC line. I really appreciated that the vascular access nurses and interventional technologists took my thoughts into consideration. I believed Owen could handle the procedure without sedation, despite his age. They went ahead with the plan and Owen did amazing. He loved the reward he received afterwards from the IR technologists; he knew he had done a great job.
Three weeks later, we had just been discharged after spending the entire month of July in the hospital and I noticed that the arm that his PICC line was in was very swollen. PICC lines are great, but blood clots are one of the side effects that sometimes can happen. They had me bring him straight into clinic. While we were in the waiting room, he suddenly started complaining of chest pain. I took him back into clinic and asked for a nurse. They rushed him into an exam room with the concern that he could possibly have a pulmonary embolism. So within 15 to 20 minutes we were in CT getting ready to have a CTA (CT angiography). Again, my input was welcomed when I said he could do it without medication. Owen had done nothing but show his strength from Day 1 and I knew this exam would be no different.
In the last year and a half Owen has had nine chest x-rays, four ultrasounds, two CT scans, one CT angiogram, a PICC procedure with fluoroscopy, and a mediport placed in the OR with fluoroscopy. Each time we encounter the radiology department I am very grateful that my input is taken into consideration. It’s not because I’m an employee; they take my input seriously because I’m Owen’s mother, and I know my child. I find myself now being even more in tune when I interact with parents who offer suggestions on how to perform an exam on their child. Sometimes, it could be that little piece of information that can make or break a positive experience.