Solomon’s journey with childhood cancer began on September 18, 2017, promptly after a weekend where he discontinued walking, eating, and talking. Prior to this weekend, he struggled with constipation and unexplained bouts of cries starting at 15 months old. It then progressed to a tip-toeing gait with his left foot. We brought him to the pediatrician and requested various orders for bloodwork, an x-ray, and ultrasound. Sadly, there was a considerably large, opaque image on the x-ray screen. We immediately recognized something was frightfully wrong with his fragile, two-year-old body.
As we proceeded to the lab for his bloodwork order, his pediatrician called to inform us to drive to INOVA Fairfax Hospital instantly for Solomon’s ultrasound. After the completion of the ultrasound, the radiologist informed us that Solomon had a large mass expanding over his entire left kidney and because of its nature in size that it was likely a tumor.
All three of us were placed in a room after the ultrasound. We were advised to make arrangements with our employers and childcare for our 4-month-old, Isabella, because we would be at the hospital for quite some time. On September 25, 2017, he was officially diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, stage 3, high risk. For 48 challenging days, Solomon experienced a portion of the grueling 18-month treatment protocol he needed to undergo. We were advised to prepare ourselves for the worse. Solomon endured a tumor biopsy, surgery, 2 bone marrow biopsies, 2 cycles of chemotherapy, numerous injections, several CT scans, x-rays, ultrasounds, tests, and endless feeding tube insertions. By this time, both of his legs suffered with severe neuropathy. Solomon required extensive physical therapy to learn how to walk again. After he received the 1st cycle of chemo, it was discovered that this cycle was not effective as the tumor continued to grow.
We immediately contacted Dr. Brian Kushner at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). They were more than willing to work with INOVA Fairfax Hospital. Dr. Kushner seamlessly delegated to the local oncology team on the next steps, as we turned Solomon’s care over to MSK while physically remaining at his home hospital until his major resection surgery. Their collaborative efforts were astounding.
On December 21, 2017, Dr. Michael La Quaglia at MSK performed the major resection surgery on Solomon which took 8 hours. Dr. La Quaglia removed all of the remaining aggressive tumor that were in difficult areas and saved our son’s life. We are incredibly grateful for Dr. La Quaglia and this gift of a second chance to watch our son grow. Solomon spent 10 days intubated and recovering at MSK’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and it was the best Christmas gift we could have asked for.