4-year-old Sherwood Park boy learning to walk again after surgeries, radiation
Published Thursday, December 20, 2012 4:22PM MST
Last Updated Thursday, December 20, 2012 6:13PM MST
A four-year-old boy from Sherwood Park is learning to walk for the second time in his young life.
Declan Lord has had a challenging few years.
He was born with a large tumour in his spine, but it wasn’t diagnosed right away.
“He just looked like he wanted to die,” said Lindsay Lord, Declan’s mother. “I knew in my gut there was something really wrong with him.”
Declan’s parents thought he was colic, but doctors determined his tears were being caused by pain from a massive tumour in Declan’s spine.
“It was affecting his legs, his arms, his breathing,” Lord said. “It was shock, definitely we were shocked.”
Doctors had to break Declan’s back when he was just ten-months-old in order to scrape out the cancerous mass, but his neurosurgeon Dr. Vivek Mehta admits they weren’t able to remove all of it.
“This type of tumour is a special tumor. It's in a space in the spine called the intermedulary space so it's intrinsic to the spinal cord and they're not that common,” Mehta said.
“He had little tongues of tumor that went in to the normal spinal cord and every time we tried to take it out he would get in to some trouble so we weren’t able to get every last bit of it out.”
Declan went through months of rehabilitation and learned to walk but then the cancer came back when he was 17-months-old and then again when he was 22-months-old.
“It felt like you got hit by a baseball bat, you know. It was really tough but I chose to remain positive,” Lindsay said.
Declan had to undergo a second surgery and when that still didn’t work, the family turned to radiation therapy.
“I knew the radiation was going to work I just knew that it was and it did,” Lindsay said.
Twenty-eight radiation treatments later, and Declan finally became cancer-free.
Now the little boy is learning to walk again and while it’s proven difficult, it’s also been made easier with the love and support he’s received from family and friends.
Declan’s Uncle Blair McCartney created a rehabilitation space in the family’s basement.
“We can go downstairs and it doesn't matter what's going on in our lives, it's super easy to go downstairs and do it,” Lindsay said. “It’s going to benefit him. He’s going to progress more.”
The basement features parallel bars, stairs and a stationary bike that Declan can use whenever he wants.
“He works his butt off,” Lindsay said.
A health care worker also spends time with Declan three days a week, working on his social and cognitive development.
“After his first surgery I knew that he would walk again and I didn’t think he’d need a walker. Now after everything that he’s been through there’s so much more damage done, maybe he’ll have to always use a walker or maybe he’ll have to use crutches but I know that he’ll walk again,” Lindsay said.
And while it’s been a challenging few years, the Lords say Declan’s situation has never been better.
He recently celebrated his fourth birthday, the first birthday he’s ever had without tubes or being on antibiotics or medicine.
Now the family is looking forward to what they believe will be their best Christmas yet.
“This is the first year where it's normal around our house. It’s been awesome,” Lindsay said.
With files from Carmen Leibel