Brain tumors are severely dangerous, especially if you are unaware that your child is stricken with this condition. Tika Smith was simply unaware that her child had a tumor, one that may have been there since birth. As she begins to share her son’s story with me, I am amazed at what she reveals. As we conversed, it became apparent that there were signs that she just didn’t catch.
Looking back, she explains that the signs of the brain tumor started to materialize when her son was three years old; she shrugged them off as a ‘kid thing.’ Today she is visibly regretful that she did not realize her son’s condition, this is the reason for sharing KeKe’s story.
Her son was around three years old when the first odd episode began to happen. His dad was concerned about his speech delay. However, Tika didn’t believe this to be true. Thinking he was probably a slow learner and he would grow out of it, she gave it no thought for concern. After some time passed, he would start to say, “Mommy my brain hurts.” Ms. Smith at the time thought that he had been running around too much because he was a hyperactive kid, she would tell him: “Go drink some water, sit down, and you will be all right.” The next incidents occurred while he was with his older brother, he claims that KeKe walked into the wall on multiple occasions. He excused the behavior away as his brother being silly. KeKe’s older brother did not tell his mother about these incidents.
On the eve of Halloween, five years ago Tika had taken her family to Bellevue mall for some shopping. While the kids were running around and playing, Keke fell backward and hit his head so hard that he passed out. He gained consciousness a few minutes later, but there was a strange glare in his eyes. She claims that a faint voice told her to take him to the ER, she attributes what she heard to be God. They took him to the ER, where a Cat Scan was conducted, and it revealed a brain tumor. This tumor was a size of a fist. The doctor said, “He’s a living miracle, and that fall saved his life!” In the hospital, the family began to recall all the somewhat odd occurrences that her son had experienced. They concluded that they missed the signs leading up to this day and they were devastated. Guilt was the first emotion that engulfed this family.
Keke’s surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Ojemann is a specialist in his field, and the ER doctors specifically requested that he perform this surgery. After a successful but intricate surgery, KeKe recovered after a two-week stay in the hospital. Physical and speech therapy was essential for the recovery process, and today he is doing just fine.
He is now playing football and loves it. His mother says that although she was afraid to allow him to play, she did not want what happened to him to stop him from being a typical little boy. This young man had two dreams that he wants to achieve - one was to meet Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks Quarterback), and that dream came true for him! The second is to write a book about his experience and then give these books to other children who are in the hospital going through what he has endured. He is simply amazing!
Ms. Smith says her faith in God is what kept her going along with the support of her community. Gratitude fills her heart for her friend, Mars Hills church and The Little School of Bellevue for providing meals, rent, and a home for Keke's siblings while Tika stayed in the hospital with him. She has expressed that Dr. Ojemann was God sent; she had faith in him to do what she believed God sent him to do.
This mother’s message to all of us is, pay close attention to your children's behaviors and when you feel something is not quite right, get them checked by a doctor just in case. She wants to use her oversight to bring awareness so that others will think twice about their children's welfare.