“My head hurts,” 13-year old Alyssa Rose shared with her parents Shawn and Lynn back in 2016. Little did the Rose family of Sydney River, NS know that Alyssa’s frequent headaches were an indication of something much more serious.
After almost two years of headaches and facial numbness, Alyssa had an MRI at her local hospital in the fall of 2018. The very next day they received the heartbreaking results. Alyssa had a stage 1 meningioma – a benign tumour on her brain stem that was 5 cm in depth. The family would need to travel from their Sydney River home to the IWK for care.
“I was fearful for my daughter,” recounts Shawn. “Alyssa’s mom Lynn had the exact same tumour 16 years ago and she spent a heartbreaking year recovering in hospital. What if the same thing happened to my daughter?”
Within six hours of being diagnosed, the Rose family met IWK Neurosurgeon Dr. Simon Walling to learn more about Alyssa’s treatment options. Five days later, she underwent a 20-hour surgery to remove the tumour.
“Surgery day was tough for us,” said Shawn. “But the nurses kept us informed throughout the day.”
Alyssa spent the three days after surgery sedated in the IWK’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Shawn says those were emotional times as they waited to see if she would have any side effects from the surgery.
Alyssa’s care continued on one of the IWK’s inpatient units. As a result of surgery she is deaf in her left ear and has double vision in one eye that she is working to correct. Her family is extremely grateful to have her back home as she continues to get stronger every day.
“The IWK is a magical place,” said Shawn. “Some of the best people work there. There is no other place I’d want to take my child for care.”