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Meet Henrik, Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivor

Meet Henrik, Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivor

Henrik Lewis likes the same things as any other eleven year old boy: video games, riding bikes with his dad, and playing with his dog Mini Munch. However, in May of 2014 his life took an unexpected turn. Henrik was experiencing spots in his vision and couldn’t see things from far away. Thinking something might be wrong with his sight; his mom took him to get his eyes checked. The vision clinic sent him to a retinal specialist, who sent him to Seattle Children’s Hospital, and within 4 hours Henrik and his family had discovered that he had a brain tumor.

Ten days after his diagnosis Henrik had his first craniotomy to try to remove the tumor. Surgery revealed that his tumor was wrapped in blood vessels, which made removal too dangerous. While doctors were unable to take out the whole tumor, they were able to get a sample. Pathology of the tumor showed Henrik had a mature teratoma, which is benign at the cellular level so chemotherapy and radiation were not options. So Henrik and his family waited. He had regular checkups to monitor the tumor and just over a year after his diagnosis a routine MRI showed that the tumor had grown. In June of 2015 Henrik went in for his second craniotomy. During this procedure doctors were able to remove three samples of the tumor. Pathology from this surgery, unlike the first, showed a central nervous system germinoma. Because of the new diagnosis, Henrik needed to start chemotherapy and would later need radiation treatment.

Henrik and his family worked with their care team at Seattle Children’s Hospital to determine a treatment plan, and decided to pursue proton therapy following his chemotherapy. They felt that proton therapy’s ability to treat the tumor with a great level of precision while still preserving much of the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor was their best option.

Anyone who meets Henrik can tell that he is special. Throughout his treatment at the Center he brought joy to all of the other patients around him. The patients and staff who met him were all inspired by his positivity. When asked about his time at SCCA Proton Therapy Henrik said, “Everyone was so nice and always took care of me. On days I was sad before radiation, everyone would always really try to make me feel better.  I enjoyed being there as much as I possibly could because everyone always wanted to help me.” Henrik mentioned that his care team at the Center helped keep his spirits lifted during his treatment, from Abby and Tucker at the front desk, to his treatment team in the back. He also appreciated Michelle the oncology social worker who supported him during his treatment.

Henrik is looking forward to getting back to being a normal kid. He is now done with all of his treatments and will continue with routine checkups to monitor his condition. While multiple treatments and surgeries might have been a setback for most, Henrik has managed to not only keep up but excel in school since his diagnosis. His favorite subject is history, and he is especially interested in Greek and Roman mythology. He loves it so much that when granted a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation he chose to go to Rome to learn more about his favorite subject in person. He and his family will be making the trip to Italy in June. Henrik is also looking forward to spending the holidays with his family. They left for a well-deserved Disneyland vacation the day after Thanksgiving.