Teenager’s brain surgery goes perfectly

For these particular parents, sweeter words were never heard than: “It’s benign.”

Doctors were speaking of the tumor they had removed from the brain of 13-year-old Hayden Rancore-Wellman in a two-hour-plus surgery at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital last Friday.

“Benign” means not harmful; in other words, the tumor was not malignant. All Hayden has facing him now is recovery from the surgery, not more visits to the hospital in a long fight against cancer.

Lisa Rancore, Hayden’s mother, was still smiling ecstatically on Wednesday when she and her son visited Bryan Boersma, a pastor at the First Reformed Church of Oak Harbor. It was partly a social visit, and partly aimed at spreading the word about the church’s aluminum can fund-raising drive to help pay Hayden’s medical bills.

The three took a minute to empty some plastic bags filled with cans into the recycling bin, a task which Hayden attacked with enthusiasm. His bright eyes were not dimmed by the surgery, but the experience was evident.

Hair was just beginning to sprout on Hayden’s shaved head. It was obvious it would soon obscure the large, fresh scar that runs halfway across the top of his head. Doctors removed the tumor and installed a metal plate, and that will take some time to heal in place.

“I’ll be home the rest of the year,” Hayden said, speaking of school. And he has to put his favorite game, soccer, on hold for a year while his head heals. But he’s amazingly mobile for a boy who underwent brain surgery just a few days ago, and he has no trouble speaking even though doctors cut through a muscle connected to his jaw.

“He’s doing incredibly well,” said Lisa, a single mother, describing the diagnosis that the tumor was benign as “a blessing — it’s what we were hoping for.” Equally happy was the boy’s father, Royce Wellman.

The family has been associated with the First Reformed Church for about a year. “This church has been phenomenal,” Lisa said of the support they’ve received. “They’d done a lot more than I imagined. For Hayden, these guys are like family.”

Besides prayer, church members offered financial support and fund-raising efforts such as the aluminum can drive. “It’s one of the ways we’re trying to support them,” said Pastor Boersma.

Although the medical bills are large, Lisa Rancore was smiling and happy, without a serious worry in the world. After all, she had her son back. “They saved him,” she said.

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