It’s not an uncommon story. A mother is convinced her child is sick and books a doctor’s appointment. The doctor reassures the parent that nothing is wrong with their child. After more strange behavior and sick days, the mother begs for further tests against the doctor’s professional advice. Eventually, doctors discover it was an undiagnosed medical issue causing the child’s distress.
This is the story that haunts every mother but became a scary reality for Tiffani Erulkeroglu when her 7-year-old son woke her up on Mother’s Day back in 2015. “Within minutes he was lying in a drowsy state on the sofa but was screaming in pain every time he vomited,” said Erulkeroglu. By the time they arrived at the hospital Emre was no longer vomiting, doctors chalked it up to a migraine, and the family went home.
But Erulkeroglu couldn’t shake her concern over the unusual illness her son was overcome with that morning. She began to do her own research when she came across Head Smart, an awareness campaign that listed symptoms similar to Emre’s as warning signs of a brain tumor.
Erulkeroglu went back to the doctor and demanded more tests as a precaution. But when Emre had a neurological exam, it showed nothing out of the ordinary.
One doctor suggested she stop asking her son if he had a headache every day. “I relaxed slightly thinking I was making him worse and that it could be migraines,” Erulkeroglu said. Weeks later, Emre was playing with his toys when he drew a startling picture of himself on an Etch-a-Sketch.
Emre pointed to the black dot he’d drawn on his forehead, calling it “the headache that never went away.” Erulkeroglu immediately demanded an MRI scan. Results revealed that Emre had a cyst in his pineal gland.
Erulkeroglu sought more medical help, after which they discovered that the cyst was a tumor that they could not operate on. Emre underwent procedures such as a lumbar puncture instead and is now under watch. “It took three months of me pleading to get a diagnosis but he’s here, stable and getting on with life.”
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