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Ali's Story: Her Surgeon is Her Hero

  • Ali's Story - Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery - Boys Town National Research Hospital

    It's scarier now to look back on it, knowing that she had cancer and if I would have brushed it off any longer that it could have spread. That's what scares me now. She had noticed a lump in her in her cheek and she kind of had cold like symptoms. I thought let's give it a week, let's see what happens, see if it'll go away. I thought it might just be a swollen lymphnode. We went to her pediatrician and had a couple rounds of antibiotics and that wasn't working. They finally said we don't know what it is. Can we send you to a surgeon? I said well we know one. How is your face feeling? We go way back pretty much from when she was a little baby. She had actually kind of graduated from my clinic around the age of five and then about a year and a half after that, she comes. Mom brings her back in my clinic and says hey we got a new lump on her face. I don't know what this is, obviously we trust you. What do you think we should do? I knew right away when he felt the lump in her face that it wasn't right and it shouldn't have been there. He said yeah, it has to come out. She went in and had surgery. They had to send it to two or three different places to figure out what it was. It ended up being a mucoepidermoid carcinoma of the parotid gland. Generally, again a tumor that occurs in much much older individuals but the good news for her was, it was completely removed, margins were clear and her risk of it spreading or reoccurring are now extremely low. It takes a little over a year and a half for a scar to heal all the way. How do you know? I read it in a book. When he came in to tell us that it was cancer, he spoke directly to Ali. That to me was big. She's the one that's dealing with this and she's the one that needs to understand. We were talking in the car this morning about different reasons why she thinks he's her hero. The way that he can connect with Ali. He talks to her and he's funny. When she had her surgery he let her ride all over the bed and just just kind of being silly and he goes along with it whatever and however she's doing that day. You develop different types of relationships with everybody and your patients. Her having been basically growing up under my care, I mean, she's really one of my children. It's really special those bonds and those relationships and you know when a mom comes back after I haven't seen them for a couple of years and bring them with a different problem or something and say you know, we only come to you we only trust you, it's a huge, huge honor. Really special mom and really special girl. I'll be seeing her for many more years just to make sure that there's no evidence of any recurrence.​

Patient Story Surgery and Hospital Care