Joan and Roger's Story

Joan and Roger's Story

This is a story about my husband's journey with a brain tumor. This picture was taken a month before he died. My name is Joan and I am going to tell you about my husband, Roger Small.

In April of 1994, Roger was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tumour was the size of a large orange. At that time the mobile MRI unit, which travelled between Saint John and Moncton, was not available. Due to the urgency of the situation, Roger had to travel to Presque Isle Maine, to have an MRI.

We brought the results back to Dr. Wheelock. Dr. Wheelock and Dr. Arditti surgically removed 95% of the tumour. The surgery took 13 and 1/2 hours. This tumor was a hemangiopericytoma which was slow growing and non-malignant. At this time, only two doctors in Canada dealt with this type of tumour.

Dr. Wheelock consulted with one to discuss what to do with the remaining 5% of the benign tumour. They decided on radiation, which could be done in Saint John. After several months, Roger was able to go back to work - but saw Dr. Wheelock regularly. Eleven years later, in May of 2005, they discovered the remainder of the tumour had started growing.

Dr. Wheelock and Dr. Al-Shayzi did the surgery which took a full day. Three years later, in February of 2008 the tumour started growing quickly and was now malignant. Roger had another 10-hour surgery. Again the surgeons were Dr. Wheelock and Dr. Al-Shayzi.

In September of 2008, the tumour began growing again and Dr. Wheelock consulted with doctors at the VG Hospital in Halifax. The doctors decided on steriotactic radiation at the VG Hospital, where Roger would be an outpatient. We were there for seven weeks. ( I was very happy to hear that steriotactic radiation is now available at the Saint John Regional Hospital. )

On October 26, 2012, Roger had his last surgery. Dr. Wheelock and Dr. Le Roux were the surgeons and the surgery lasted eight hours. Roger died, in hospital, on Nov 13, 2012, from complications. None of our family made it to the hospital in time.

We were comforted to learn that Nurse Janice, who we call Loop-D, was with Roger when he died. Roger thought so much of Dr. Wheelock and Loop-D. We initally did not expect Roger would recover from the first surgery in 1994.

Roger always remained positive and never complained. Every night he would tell me how lucky he was. If anyone asked how he was feeling he would respond with a smile and say “A-1”. A few years before he died Roger told my sister that he didn't have long to live. He asked her to make sure I received a special valentine from him that year. My sister mailed the valentine to me but told me the story first. Now, on Valentine's Day I will always remember my husband's special act of love.

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