WORTHINGTON — A benefit is planned for 4-year-old Emmit Gonzalez, son of Melissa and Adrian Gonzalez, on May 20 from 4-7 p.m. at The Barn, 1815 East Avenue, Worthington. I’m here.
The evening includes a meal of smoked pulled pork sandwiches, a side bar for voluntary donations, a bar, and a silent auction hosted by family friends and colleagues.
Melissa is a registered nurse in the surgical department at Sanford Worthington Medical Center and Adrian works in the engineering department at Bedford Industries.
Her son Emmit underwent surgery on January 25 to remove a golf-ball-sized mass from the cerebellum in the back of his brain. The operation was successful and the resected mass was sent for examination. Almost a month after her on Feb. 20, Melissa received a call informing her that the lump was cancerous. This is a high-grade glioma, especially rare in children.
Since then, Emmitt has undergone radiation and chemotherapy at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. His last treatment is his May 1, and his first follow-up appointment is scheduled for 3 weeks after him.
As a result of Emmit’s treatment, Melissa and Adrian alternately took several weeks off from work to take their son to Rochester for five consecutive days of treatment. They lost their jobs, ran out of vacation time, and requested family medical leave to be with Emmit. but there were additional costs.
Emmitt’s road to diagnosis began in mid-January when a normally active little boy began complaining of headaches. Around that time, one of his sisters had a double ear infection, so doctors thought it could be a viral infection.
“We went home, but over the weekend he kept complaining of headaches,” Melissa says. “He was crying and moaning in pain. He was holding the back of his head.”
That weekend Emmit started vomiting and his parents took him to therapy.
“I probably took him three times in a week and a half,” said Melissa. “He got progressively worse in a short period of time.”
Additional tests were ordered, including blood tests and a CT scan.
“Before the blood work came back, they realized there was something in the scan – there was a lump,” Melissa said. I’m not thinking of a brain tumor, just think of it as a last resort.”
It’s possible that the location of the tumor was blocking some of the spinal fluid, which was the cause of Emmitt’s headache.
Dr. Bassel Bardan, Emmitt’s pediatrician in Avera, Worthington, consulted Sanford Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota after the CT scan on Jan. I was admitted to the intensive care unit.
Melissa took Emmit to Sioux Falls, but Adrian, who was on a work-related trip in Colorado, had to drive three hours to Denver for a flight to Sioux Falls.
“Bedford found me a 5:00 pm flight to Sioux Falls,” said Adrian. “His boss picked me up at the (Sioux Falls) airport and took me straight to the hospital.”
The next morning, January 25, Emmitt had an MRI to get a better picture, followed by surgery to remove the mass. The surgery took about three hours from start to finish, which was shorter than Melissa and Adrian expected.
Emmitt spent six days in the hospital, four and a half days in the ICU. The day after surgery another MRI of him was done. He had a total of three of his MRIs while in his ICU in the pediatrics department, but because of his age he had to be sedated with each examination.
“Overall, he’s done really well,” Melissa said. “It took a while for his gait and motor control to come back.
When she received a call on February 20 that the tumor was cancerous, Emmitt was referred to the Pediatric Oncology Department at Sanford Castle in Sioux Falls. They met with an oncologist there in early March of him.
“It’s a very aggressive cancer, so she wasn’t really sure what to do to move forward,” Melissa said. , a week later, Mayo contacted the Gonzalez family with a treatment plan.
Emmitt was scheduled to undergo 30 radiation treatments and oral chemotherapy.
“He’s only four years old and in the position of the tumor, so it was best to hit him with a proton beam,” Melissa said, adding that the beam can be set to a specific depth and width.
“It’s more specific to where the tumor is, rather than affecting the whole brain,” Adrian added.
Neither Worthington nor Sioux Falls have proton beam technology, so treatment must be done in Rochester.
Emmit spent a week at Mayo before treatment began. Meanwhile, they made a radiation mask for him, did another MRI of him to map out the treatment sites, and put his PIC line on his chest.
Each radiation treatment took about 20 minutes, but including the preparation and post-treatment rituals, it took about 1.5 hours each day, Monday through Friday, for 6 weeks.
Emmitt is currently on a four-week post-treatment break and will return to Mayo in three weeks to meet with a hematologist and an oncologist.
Adrian said Emmitt had the most effective type of treatment, but Melissa said it was a glioma and it wasn’t if it would come back, but when.
“Usually they regenerate in two to three years,” she said. “Treatment is about slowing progression and slowing recurrence.”
Glioma is rare in children and more commonly seen in adults over the age of 60.
“That’s why treatment options exist… there isn’t enough evidence and research[in children]to make a definitive plan of action,” Melissa said.
Adrian said his son handled the treatment pretty well.
A stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester has been a blessing in many ways, not just financially. Nightly activities are planned at the house, allowing Melissa and Adrian to be with other parents of children who have been hospitalized in Mayo for a variety of reasons.
“It definitely makes you feel lonely,” Melissa said. “It’s interesting to hear their stories and what they’re going through. .”
Melissa and Adrian alternated trips to Rochester with Emmit, but family, friends, colleagues and local residents provided all the support they could.
“There are people who bring money, gift cards, prayers and emotional support,” Melissa said.
“It’s really hard to express how grateful we are,” Adrian added.
Their daughters, 6-year-old Eliana and 20-month-old Everly, spent more time with their grandparents during Emmit’s treatment. Melissa said Eliana’s teacher, Tracy Herrem, has been a huge support to her after going through her son’s cancer treatment.
“We would like to thank you for your generous love, support, prayers and donations,” the Gonzales said.
Among the items included in the silent auction fundraiser are a three-day stay at the Great Wolf Lodge, numerous gift cards, trampolines, indoor/outdoor benches, quilts, Afghan, children’s toys and games, and an array of gift baskets. I have.
In addition to the May 20 fundraiser benefits, family donations can be brought in or mailed to the American Bank and Trust, 724 Oxford St., Worthington. Please note that the donation is for the Emmitt Gonzalez Medical Expense Fund.