When Sean began complaining of severe migraines in spring of 2023, he was brought to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to undergo an MRI to explore the source of his headaches. Results revealed a shocking discovery. Sean had a brain tumor called a non-germinomatous germ cell tumor (NGGCT) in the pineal region. It grows from abnormal cells in the pineal gland, a small gland deep in the brain that regulates sleep-wake cycles and produces hormones such as melatonin. NGGCTs in the pineal region are considered quite rare.
In need of immediate action, Sean was admitted and underwent emergency surgery to obtain a sample of the tumor and initiate drainage. “My husband and I were in shock for a while,” remembers Sean’s mom, Beth, “then fairly quickly switched into function mode. We had a sort of ‘tell us where to be and we'll be there’ attitude just to try to get through.”
Several weeks later, Sean began chemotherapy. After two rounds, results showed that rather than the tumor shrinking, as intended, it had grown. It was determined that Sean would need to undergo surgery to remove part of the tumor. “So many things could’ve gone wrong,” shares Beth, “but after 16 hours and a week in the hospital, we were home with Sean.”
After surgery and additional rounds of chemotherapy, MRIs showed the tumor did not come back. Throughout this whirlwind of unexpected challenges, Sean has taken it all in stride. He’s fought hard to recover, was able to begin fourth grade with his friends, and is back to playing soccer and football at recess. “We feel very optimistic about the future and have all grown immensely through this,” Beth says.
Maintenance for Sean includes radiation therapy which is set to begin this holiday season. When you contribute to Nationwide Children's Hospital’s holiday campaign, you are lighting up lives like Sean’s.