Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ben’s Tale, or How Pelvic Surgery Does Not End Your Dance Career

My patient, Ben, presented at age 8 with right hip pain. Evaluation of the pain eventually revealed a tumor in his hip, and a biopsy confirmed that this was Ewing’s sarcoma. The chemotherapy for this disease is standard, but Ben’s parents were faced with a very difficult decision – surgery or radiation to treat the primary mass?

As with all such decisions, there were many complicated considerations: radiation might cause a secondary cancer and surgery might be better at preventing a local relapse, but radiation would probably cause less functional difficulty later on and surgery would require a body cast for several months (yes, months!).

Ben’s parents struggled with this decision, and ultimately chose surgery. The orthopedic surgeon removed a significant amount of Ben’s left pelvis, along with the tumor. Ben was in a cast that stretched from his armpits to his knees for 3 months. Imagine, if you will, carrying your 8 year old child from home to hospital and back, sometimes several times a week, in a cast like that. Imagine being an 8 year old and unable to bend at the waist or knees, unable to sit or stand (let alone walk) for 3 months!

The story has a happy ending, though. Ben’s therapy ended in November 2006. He remains disease free. Unfortunately, his right leg is shorter than his left, but he wears a lift in the right shoe to even things out.

Functional deficits? Ben plays Dance Dance Revolution and beats his friends. And you can tell by the picture, he’s a pretty happy kid!




Ben’s mother allowed me to share Ben’s story to provide some hope for readers who are facing such difficult decisions and are concerned about how things may turn out. For those of you who are facing similar decisions and might want to talk with someone who has been there, Ben’s mother Sue has given me permission to post her email address: blanman2@comcast.net. Feel free to email her. She is more than happy to give advice or just lend a supportive ear.

6 comments:

Jen said...

What a fantastic story to read- way to go Ben!

Mary said...

Go, Ben! Your smile is contagious! :-) It must have been so hard to be in that cast for three months. I bet you love being able to play now! Thank you for sharing hope and happiness with us. And don't worry about the differences in your leg lengths. There is nothing wrong with being unique!! :) Be proud of who you are!

The mention of dancing reminded me of a couple of people. One is little Carly who is still dancing after spine surgery. These kids are great!

Icepak said...

Ben looks just like his daddy!

MP3 e MP4 said...
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KELLY said...

Way to go, Ben - and Dr. David, for inspiring other kids (and their parents) to keep going - at all costs. Doctors like you are true heros!

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