The family of a Westman teen who underwent advanced surgery to have a brain tumour removed needs a little help, and the Health Sciences Centre Foundation asks local residents to support the cause.
Bryce Summers and his family have been big supporters of the foundation since his operation at HSC in Winnipeg. Now they need some financial support following his treatment, and the foundation believes Westman residents will come through.
"I know people in Westman, I know people in Brandon, they really support their community," said Greg Burch, director of marketing and communications for the HSC Foundation.
The bond between the foundation and Bryce’s family was formed when the teen underwent urgent surgery in a state-of-the-art operating room partially funded by the foundation.
Bryce’s sister, Laurissa Fleury, said her brother enjoyed the life of a typical teen — the 13-year-old liked school, hanging out with friends and playing hockey — that is, until last October when he started to have terrible headaches.
As a result, he missed school and, at times, the pain was so severe that he couldn’t move and remained in bed. Light and sound intensified the pain and painkillers gave no relief.
Bryce’s parents took him for repeated visits to the emergency room at the Brandon hospital as doctors ruled out a migraine and then a viral infection, Fleury said.
Bryce and his parents happened to be staying in Brandon at the time as they were moving from Kenton to Lenore and were waiting for their new home to be ready.
Bryce’s sisters said that in mid-October, during a third visit to the emergency room, Bryce received a CT scan at his father’s insistence. It detected a large mass on the back of Bryce’s brain.
"It was really, really devastating. Something you think wouldn’t happen to you," Laurissa said, describing the emotional impact the discovery had on the family.
The day after the scan, Bryce and his parents were summoned back to the Brandon hospital. From there, Bryce was taken by ambulance to the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.
He remained at HSC, had surgery on Nov. 1 and became the first pediatric patient to have a tumour removed at the Centre for Surgical Innovation. Its two advanced operating rooms, funded in part by donations to the HSC Foundation, opened in September 2013.
Previously, Bryce may have had to travel to Edmonton for such a surgery.
The operation at HSC involved the use of advanced technology in the form of an intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.
Typically, Burch explained, an MRI machine isn’t movable. But, an intraoperative MRI machine can be moved into the operating room on a conveyor belt during surgery. That allows doctors to check on their progress while removing a tumour.
If even a small part of a tumour is missed, doctors can use the advanced MRI to detect it during surgery and remove it without the need for a second operation. A complete removal of the tumour reduces the chance of a recurrence.
In fact, that’s just what happened in Bryce’s case. Surgeons removed the mass, checked the MRI, found more tumour and safely removed it.
In total, doctors removed a tumour estimated to be between the size of a baseball and a softball.
Bryce stayed about a week in hospital following his surgery, and life has improved since he has returned home to Lenore. The headaches are gone and he recovered to the extent that he was even playing hockey again (until he injured his knee).
Burch said that since the surgery, Bryce’s family members have been generous in their time to help raise money for the HSC Foundation.
They’ve appeared as guests on its radiothon, travelled to Winnipeg to support its home lottery and shared their story as part of a direct mail campaign.
The money they’ve inspired others to give will be used to develop the Centre for Surgical Innovation so other patients can benefit.
But now, Burch said the family needs some financial help due to expenses related to Bryce’s treatment and some bad luck. He asks Westman residents to contribute to fundraising efforts for the family.
"They’ve done a lot to help us out ... We’re very grateful," Burch said.
Bryce’s mother can’t work due to a back problem, and his father was off work to be with his son during his stay in the Winnipeg hospital.
Mom and dad, Michelle and Ryan Summers, stayed at Ronald McDonald House in Winnipeg, but still spent savings on living expenses to remain with their son during his hospital stay.
Ryan then suffered a knee injury in a recent car crash and can’t work. Then there’s the price of prescriptions for Bryce, and travel expenses for followup medical appointments in Winnipeg.
Money will be raised during a Bud, Spud and Steak event to be held tomorrow, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Great Western Roadhouse at the Canad Inns hotel in Brandon.
Tickets are $20 each and available by calling Laurissa at 204-721-2299 or her sister Samantha at 204-720-2817.
Contributions can also be made to an account in Bryce’s name at Vanguard Credit Union.
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