St Clair School pupils (from left) Liam Rua (7), Sam Stainer (7), Phoenix Mao (6) and Edwin Zhen (7) are happy to be back in the playground together. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Neusea, a pounding headache and having problems with
co-ordination are all legitimate excuses for not going to
But having all three did not stop Sam Stainer heading back to
St Clair School yesterday for the first time in months.
The enthusiastic pupil was raring to go, having been absent
after an orange-sized tumour was found on his brain.
In December, surgeons at Christchurch Hospital spent seven
hours removing the benign tumour from his cerebellum - a
region of the brain at the base of the skull that is
important for its role in motor control.
Fortunately, cerebellar damage does not cause paralysis, but
it can produce disorders in fine movement, equilibrium,
posture and motor learning.
For Sam, it has left him with nausea and headaches and, from
time to time, he bumps into things because of a loss of
Despite feeling unwell, Sam has been extremely excited for
the past couple of weeks about going back to school to see
his friends, and yesterday his teachers said he had fitted
back in to school life like he had never been away.
His mother, Sandra Stainer, said Sam had good and bad days
since the surgery, but doctors had been impressed with his
She believed going back to school for an hour a day would be
good for him.
''He's not the same little boy we had before. He used to be
quite placid - now he has mood swings. But it's amazing how
well he is recovering.
''He's been excited about going back to school. It's going to
be great for him to get some normality back in his life after
the trauma he's suffered. It's been such an emotional
rollercoaster - it still is.''
Miss Stainer said it was hoped Sam's time at school could be
increased over the coming months as his physical and mental
strength improved. She was extremely grateful for the support
the family had received from the community during the past
Sadly, the journey for Sam is not over yet.
Miss Stainer said it was believed surgeons might not have
been able to remove all the tumour during his surgery and he
would have another MRI scan in a couple of months to check.
The family would cross whatever bridge the scan threw up,
when the results arrived.