He laughed, played and was growing fast before the eyes of his mother, McPherson resident Alicia Grummert.
What couldn’t be seen were the tumors growing on his liver.
“We didn’t know anything was wrong,” Grummert said.
In January, it appeared Hanson simply couldn’t kick a respiratory cold. When visiting the doctor, Grummert mentioned to local doctors she saw blood in his urine.
Thinking it was a bladder infection, doctors attempted to use a catheter to drain fluids. Several attempts were unsuccessful, however.
Doctors then determined a CT Scan would allow them to see what was wrong. The results showed there were two tumors on his liver, one on each lobe. Testing proved what they had feared: Hanson had hepatoblastoma.
“It’s just been fast moving,” Grummert said. “The first few hours I was in shock and in a daze. I was thinking, ‘I can’t believe my kid has cancer.’ I was so hoping it was benign, but I knew it wasn’t.”
According to the American Childhood Cancer Association, the cancer is rare and found predominantly in preschool aged children. After diagnosis, the tumor will be staged based on its severity and whether it can be surgically removed.
In cases where the tumor is large, chemotherapy is used to shrink the tumor prior to resection — partial removal of an organ. Patients whose tumors have relapsed and not spread outside the liver are candidates for transplant.
Hanson began chemotherapy at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City the day after his diagnosis, which was the middle of February.
“It has been very difficult,” Grummert said, “but after the first 24 hours, it’s like, ‘OK, I’ve got to keep him happy. If I’m stressing out, he’s going to be stressing out, and I can’t do that to him. That’s not going to help him heal faster.”
Grummert was working in McPherson and was in nursing school but has since had to put a halt to both of those to stay with her son.
He must go through four rounds of chemotherapy, which are three weeks each. Although there is hope there may be enough healthy liver tissue to move forward cancer-free, doctors have said this chance is slim.
If not, he will need a liver transplant. If this happens, he will need to be on anti-rejection medicine the rest of his life.
“Who knows?” Grummert said. “Lots of prayers and maybe he can keep his liver.”
This is what Grummert is asking for most.
“I’ve just been asking for prayers,” she said. “I keep hearing people say, ‘I can’t imagine what you’re going through,’ but you have a sick kid. You do what you need to do to keep them happy. It’s all about them and not about you.”
A fund has been set up in Evan Hanson’s name at Great Plains Federal Credit Union in McPherson.
“We’re mainly just asking for prayers,” Hanson’s grandmother Sheila Grummert said. “But any financial help is much appreciated. This is going to be a long haul, a long road to go. We appreciate any support that is offered.”
Contact Jenae Pauls at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel