If Haley Halstead had listened to the initial diagnoses, they might not have caught the cancer in time.
As KSNW reports, 5-year-old Vincent Gonzaga of Hutchinson, Kansas, has a history of stomach issues. As a baby, he suffered from acid reflux and required medication. That’s why when Gonzaga began experiencing persistent stomach pain, doctors thought it might be related.
Halstead, a single mother, told KSNW that for many months, her son’s stomach issues had been ascribed to constipation:
“I took him to the doctor several times last year about this time. And, they just kept saying it was constipation.”
In December, Gonzaga began having stomach pains again, and this time, his stomach seemed swollen as well. His doctors said it was still constipation, but Halstead wasn’t so sure.
The mom was concerned about the pain her son was experiencing and insisted that the doctors perform additional tests, including a CT scan. She told KSNW:
“You have to listen to them. They know they’re hurting somewhere and you have to fix that for them.”
The scans revealed tumors on Gonzaga’s liver. As Halstead explained to The Hutchinson News:
“His liver is so big that it’s pushing down on other organs inside the body.”
Doctors diagnosed Gonzaga with hepatoblastoma, a form of liver cancer.
According to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, hepatoblastoma affects fewer than one in a million children. Symptoms include pain and swelling of the abdomen, jaundice, itchy or pale skin, loss of appetite, vomiting, and fever.
The chances of survival for hepatoblastoma is more than 80 percent if the tumor is only in the liver and can be removed. That’s why it’s fortunate Halstead insisted on the scans that found the tumors before they spread. The mom told KSNW:
“They said that if I didn’t find this when I did it could have spread to his lungs.”
Now, Gonzaga is undergoing chemotherapy and hoping for a liver transplant. His oncologist, Dr. Sean Pyper, told KSNW that he thinks parents can play an important role when it comes to diagnosing children:
“I’m not nearly spending the amount of time with them that a parent is. So, when a parent is around their child day in and day out for years, I try to listen to that.”
Friends have started a Facebook group to support Gonzaga and help raise money for his treatment. Halstead told KSN she’s hopeful that her son will eventually recover:
“We will be OK in the end. It’s going to be a long road. But, we’ll be OK.”