Christmas curiosity a good sign for Sam

Sam Stainer with his mother, Sandra, in Christchurch Hospital after having emergency surgery last week to remove a large tumour from his brain. Photo supplied.
Sam Stainer with his mother, Sandra, in Christchurch Hospital after having emergency surgery last week to remove a large tumour from his brain. Photo supplied.
Children across the world are beginning to drive their parents a little crazy by constantly asking what they are getting for Christmas this year.

But Sam Stainer's parents are quietly pleased at his persistent questioning because it shows he is a little curious and excited about Christmas - it is a good sign.

The 7-year-old had major surgery last Friday to remove an orange-sized tumour from his cerebellum - a region of the brain at the base of the skull which is important for its role in motor control.

It took surgeons at Christchurch Hospital seven hours to remove it.

Fortunately, cerebellar damage does not cause paralysis, but it can produce disorders in fine movement, equilibrium, posture, and motor learning.

So for now, all Sam and his family can do is wait, his mother, Sandra, said.

''He's awake, but he's very confused. One eye won't open.

''He's dizzy and vomiting at the moment, but that's not expected to last, long term.

''If I could take the pain away for him, I would.''

Miss Stainer said the only consolation was that Sam kept asking what he was getting for Christmas, which showed he was aware of his surroundings and looking forward to the day.

She said the past two years had been very difficult for the family.

Sam had suffered severe migraines, dizziness, double vision, his eyes squinted, and he vomited a lot - all of which eventually led to the diagnosis of a brain tumour.

On top of that, Sam's 15-month-old brother, Jayden, has had problems with ear infections and recently had to have grommets put in.

''It's a parent's worst nightmare. We've had a pretty rough year, really.

''One minute I'm OK, the next I'm just a mess. We're just taking it one tiny step at a time.''

St Clair School principal Richard Newton said the diagnosis last week came as quite a shock to the school as well.

He said everyone at school was aware of the pressure the turn of events had placed on Sam's family, and the disruption it had created in relation to family living expenses and work patterns.

The school held a fundraising appeal on Monday in which families made donations to support Sam and his family.

A sausage sizzle fundraiser will also be held in the Octagon on Friday from 5pm onwards.

While Sam's long-term prognosis was not fully known yet, Miss Stainer hoped biopsies of the tumour would come back benign so he could be transferred to Dunedin Hospital before Christmas for ongoing treatment.

Having the results return benign would be the greatest Christmas present ever, she said.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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