In September 2013 while in the sauna with him, I noticed that one of Antti’s testicles was bigger than the other. Conveniently enough we had already made an appointment for Antti’s annual check up for the following week, where I brought this up. The doctor immediately contacted TAYS (Tampere University Hospital) to arrange further examinations as he suspected this might be a case of hydrocoele testis.
On the Wednesday of that same week the examinations began with an ultrasound which resulted in a decision to operate. “There’s something there that we need to get a closer look on”. The operation went ahead as urgent first thing on Friday morning and we went into it hopeful. The whole topic of “tumour” was something that had been avoided until now, quite possibly to spare us parents.
After a long wait, maybe sometime after noon, two doctors invited us into their office to talk. I burst into tears as soon as one of the doctors moved the box of tissues closer to us. We didn’t need to hear the words. I knew.
”The operation went well and Antti is in the recovery room, but unfortunately the growth we removed has turned out to be a malignant rhadbomyosarcoma. Antti also had a central venous catheter installed to facilitate future treatment.”
There they were, the words we had feared the most, the words that sent all of our emotions into turmoil. We spent days as if in fog, at night we couldn’t sleep, we had no appetite and we barely remembered to shower. What followed was an almost endless round of self blame and self doubt, asking ourselves “What have I done wrong? Why Antti of all people?”
Even though Antti’s cancer was localised and there were no metastases, it was decided that he would begin a six month course of chemotherapy as this was an aggressive and fast spreading type of cancer.
Right around then the children’s ward LO6 became our second home and we began the battle against cancer – a battle we had decided to win! The course of treatments progressed as planned for the six months, we had no major complications apart from a few periods in isolation due to infection, blood transfusions, nausea and white cell injections.
Antti received the last course of chemotherapy in march 2014 and underwent a full end of treatment medical examination lasting three days in April of that same year; he got the all clear. This was indeed a reason to celebrate! In May all the isolation orders were lifted and Antti was able to attend preschool for the remainder of the term, which was for about a month.
A family close to us and our friends have been cheering us on with their support, and everyone at preschool has been a huge support and a source of joy during this whole period of treatments. The people from preschool kept inviting Antti along to their outings and sent supportive drawings home to us. That’s something we’ll never forget.
All of this is nearly two years ago now! Antti is attending second grade in school and is a very enthusiastic floor ball player. We’ve just been to our latest checkup, still all clear.
Our family still has six members and every single day we are happy and grateful that this is the case.