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Community Rallies for Recovering Boy

Posted on 08/04/2010 12:00am

By Paul Rudan - Campbell River Mirror
Published: April 08, 2010


Tricia Norton typically spends her days providing care to elderly residents at Yucalta Lodge and off-hours with her "happy little boy" Keaton.

But for the last month, the 32-year-old single mom has been by Keaton's bedside morning, noon and night as he recovers from brain tumour surgery.

"They keep telling me there's a 100 per cent recovery rate, but it could take up to a year. They do recover, it just takes a long time," she says.

Mother and son are presently at B.C. Children's Hospital in Vancouver, but will soon relocate to the much smaller Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children, also located in the city. It will be there where Keaton re-learns how to walk, talk and even eat.

"He's been fed through a nose tube right now, but he has started swallowing in the last week or so," Norton says.

He's also been able to sit in a wheelchair, but not for very long. His latest "record" is eight minutes and with each new day comes a little more improvement as he also recovers from a bacterial infection.

Keaton's always been a happy little boy, says Norton, but then he began to suffer from headaches.

"Actually, they were like migraines. They made him throw up and he would cry himself to sleep," she says.

The doctor thought Keaton might been suffering from allergies and then went through a checklist of other probable causes. Finally, at the urging of Norton and her mother, the doctor ordered a CAT scan.

When the digital images came back on March 11, they showed a mass the size of a small mandarin orange at the back of Keaton's head.
Two days later, surgeons spent more than eight hours removing the cancerous growth (pilocytic astrocytoma) which, fortunately, was benign.

Unfortunately though, a side effect of the Keaton's operation was transient mutism which occurs in 10 per cent or less of the people who undergo the surgery.

For the last month he's been bedridden preventing him from attending his Grade 4 class at Ecole des Deux Monde, curling with friends, riding his bike, playing with Lego and video games, and all the other things little boys love to do.

Perhaps most important in Keaton's recovery is his resilience. When the doctor finally saw the CAT scan results, he couldn't believe that Keaton could be so happy, never mind walking and talking, with a such large tumour in his head.

But, for now, patience is the key. Norton has been with Keaton since the operation and has no intention of going anywhere else until he is fully recovered.

She's also grateful for the tremendous support of family, friends and the community in supporting them. Co-workers at Yuculta Lodge raised $1,000, students at Keaton's school raised another $527, the local foundation Cameryn's Cause for Kids Society has helped financially along with the Lion's Club, and next month her musical friends are reuniting the Illegitimate Sons of Elvis for a fundraising dance.

"I'm so overwhelmed by all the love and support," she says from the hospital room. "Keaton's looking good too. He's always been skinny, but he's getting a high-calorie diet, his freckles have come back, there's colour in his face and even his hair has grown back from where it was shaved during the operation."

n Fundraiser "Dance for Keaton" on Friday, May 7, 8 p.m., at the Quinsam Centre hall featuring the Illegitimate Sons of Elvis. Tickets $20 at The Music Plant and Balloons-N-More Party Shop. Free rides home. All proceeds benefit the family. For dance or donation information, call Ringer at 286-3434 or Duper 923-6012.