WEST FARGO, N.D. — Even during a pandemic, Jessica Danielson said life has been “pretty much perfect” for her, husband Ross and their 3-year-old son.
Theodore, or Teddy for short, loves playgrounds, sandboxes, blocks, toy cars and books.
He’s known to greet random people in the grocery store and ask what they’re shopping for.
But things changed in October when Teddy came down with what seemed like a stomach bug or some other virus.
Fast forward a few weeks to an emergency surgery and a diagnosis of a brain tumor.
Teddy is hospitalized in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Sanford Children’s in Fargo and it's not known yet whether the tumor is cancerous.
Ross Danielson is a reading intervention teacher at Cheney Middle School in West Fargo, N.D., where he’s working when possible.
Jessica Danielson has taken leave from her work as a secretary at Moorhead High School and part-time job at Hector Airport in Fargo in order to be with Teddy in the hospital.
“We just need our little guy to feel good again,” Jessica Danielson said.
Beyond financial support, the couple appreciates any form of moral support.
“As many people thinking good thoughts and praying and hoping for the best for Teddy's results and progress, that’s what we need,” Ross Danielson said.
Not just a virus
During pregnancy, the Danielsons knew they would call their son Teddy, but a new name stuck after birth, when he came into the world weighing almost 10 pounds.
“He was a big baby, a bundle of joy ... so there came our Teddy Bear,” his mother said.
Now 3½ years old, Teddy was attending day care in early October when, one day, he vomited but didn’t seem sick and wanted to keep playing. About 10 days later, it happened again, but still, it didn’t seem to be anything serious.
By mid-October, Teddy was complaining of headaches and that his eyes hurt, and he was throwing up more often.
During that span, his parents took him to a doctor twice, each time being told it was probably just a virus.
On Oct. 27, Teddy became very lethargic and saw his pediatrician, who summoned an ambulance and sent Teddy to the emergency room. Soon after, it was determined he needed surgery.
A tumor was blocking the flow of spinal fluid, so while Teddy’s brain continued to make the fluid, there was nowhere for it to go, creating pressure in his brain.
The emergency surgery saved Teddy's life.
Two surgeries, an uncertain future
After having a few days to rest and stabilize, Teddy had a second surgery — this time to remove as much of the quarter-sized tumor as possible.
Doctors were able to remove most but not all of it due to its sensitive location near the pituitary gland at the front of the brainstem.
Samples were sent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., to determine whether the tumor is cancerous or benign and what future treatments will be needed.
Teddy was scheduled for a third surgery Friday, Nov. 13, to have a shunt put in, which will allow fluid to drain from his head to his belly.
Physical therapists are helping Teddy get his strength back because he’s been in bed for nearly three weeks.
“He’s just really tough and getting better every day,” his dad said.
The Danielsons are grateful to have a good network of friends and family that will support them through whatever their son needs to deal with down the road.
“Everybody just wants to know Teddy and wants to know how they can help him feel better,” Jessica Danielson said.