Diagnosis of Anaplastic Ependymoma Causes Alarm

Before Joseph turned a year old, he started showing symptoms for hydrocephalus–symptoms like headaches, migraines, nausea and vomiting. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, hydrocephalus happens when extra fluid from the brain and spinal cord accumulates, putting pressure on the brain and causing brain damage.

Joseph with his mom
Life – much better now for Joseph and his mom.

Jamie was soon able to get a diagnosis from their doctors. It wasn’t the news she wanted to hear however–doctors had found a tumor in Joseph’s brain. It was a fast-growing tumor classified as anaplastic ependymoma, a rare tumor that starts in the brain or spine.

“It was devastating,” Joseph’s mom said.

Everyone Comes Through for Joseph and His Family

The news was also devastating for friends, family and her co-workers at Gilmore Heating Air and Solar. But that devastation soon turned to support. They teamed up to raise money, enabling Joseph to have the surgery to remove the tumor. “All the employees came together,” Surdyka said. “They did bake sales, everything. I mean, they raised a lot of money, just the company itself, to help us through the difficult time that we were going through.”

The day finally came and the surgery was a success at UC Davis Children’s Hospital–they were able to remove the entire tumor. Today, Joseph is almost four, and, although he still has some trouble with his balance, he’s healthy. According to Jamie, it’s like he never had a tumor.

Joseph Knows His Way Around the Children’s Hospital (video)

“(People) are shocked when we do tell them (about the tumor) because (Joseph) doesn’t look or act like it,” she said.

Joseph is very social, talking with mom throughout the interview, and wanting to get up and move around. One thing he’s gotten used to using is his walker, which he constantly tests out.

His favorite song? It’s “Happy Birthday”. “Any time we’re in a restaurant,” Joseph mom said, “and someone has a birthday, Joseph will chime right in. He will turn around and just start singing ‘happy birthday’ to complete strangers.”

Joseph’s success story is a true inspiration.

Jamie can’t thank everyone enough–her employer for all the support (financial and emotional), as well as the surgeons and staff at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, who helped make Joseph tumor-free.

“It means the world to me and I’ll never forget it,” Surdyka said.

–told by Joseph’s mom, Jamie.