This is the first installment of NBC10 First Alert Weather chief meteorologist Tammie Souza’s story of her son Caleb battling a brain tumor.
Read Part 2: Picking Up & Going
Read Part 3: 'Then There Were Angels'
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This may be the most difficult thing I have ever written about. I have tried dozens of times over the past few months, but each time I simply stare at the computer and begin to cry. No parent ever wants to hear the words “your child has a large, life threatening brain tumor,” yet we heard those exact words last July. It was the worst moment of my life.
This is a story of tragedy, bravery and a very big miracle. So many people were involved and so many things needed to fit perfectly in place for this story to end well.
Caleb is our only child. He is a funny, sweet 8-year-old boy who loves baseball, fishing, swimming, soccer, Transformers, animals, music and pizza … lots and lots of pizza. His story began last spring. I had just started my new job at NBC10 in Philadelphia and Caleb was finishing second grade back in Chicago. My husband, Greg, and Caleb planned to join me in Philadelphia by summer.
We spent weekends together and made lists of what we would do and see first in Philadelphia. Caleb listed the Liberty Bell, so that was top of the list.
I remember Greg calling on a weekday morning in early April. He said Caleb had woken up screaming about a headache, then vomited and went back to sleep. That had never happened before and Greg was ready to head for the doctor’s office when Caleb woke up and said he felt fine. Strangely, my first thought was a brain tumor, but he suffers from seasonal allergies and so we convinced ourselves that was the cause. We were wrong.
Over the next few days I will share from my journal what we experienced in the hope that this will help other parents to recognize the warning signs and know what steps to take. I also want to draw attention to the fact that pediatric brain tumor research is near the bottom of all tumor research and funding -- yet it is a major cause of death in children.
Meet Caleb's Doctor
Brain Tumor Research at Lurie Children's Hospital
Donate to Lurie Children's
This is part one of a three part series. Watch Part 3 of Caleb's story on NBC10 News on Wednesday afternoon.