At first, Susan Gregorie thought her daughter, Katelyn, just had a bout of the flu. Her normally active 6-year-old daughter, who loves to dance and play soccer, just “wasn’t acting like herself.” Since the little girl had a low-grade fever and was tired, and with flu season just beginning to rear its ugly head that year, flu seemed the logical conclusion. The Gregories, who live in Kings Park, NY, took Katelyn to the pediatrician, who also suspected flu.
But rest and TLC didn’t make Katelyn better, and Susan was worried. “It wasn’t until she started having these awful headaches and neckaches, to the point that she couldn’t sleep, that I thought it might be some kind of more serious virus,” Susan said.
Then, one Friday a few weeks later, Susan’s husband, Devin, who works from home, called his wife in alarm.
“He said that Katelyn was getting worse,” Susan recalled. “He told me her eyes were crossing toward her nose, and she was just sleeping all day. I decided we needed to go to Cohen Children’s Medical Center. It’s known as the best of the best around here, and I needed to know what was really going on.”
At the emergency department, the attending physician looked at Katelyn’s eyes and immediately ordered a CAT scan. Susan said the doctor had told her that the scan should take about 20 minutes, so when the technician stopped the test after five minutes, saying that they had everything they needed, she knew in her gut that something was terribly wrong.
“The doctors came into the room a few minutes later and told us Katelyn had a brain tumor and would need to see a neurosurgeon,” Susan said. “My knees just buckled. It was absolutely the worst thing you could hear. Devin and I actually both heard an announcement over the loudspeaker, ‘Neurosurgeon to the ER,’ and luckily, he walked in less than 20 minutes later, having already looked at the CAT scan, ready to talk to us.”
The Gregories now call that neurosurgeon, Mark Mittler, MD, their “superhero.”