Dear parent of a child with parotid tumors or cysts,

My daughter was diagnosed with a cyst on her parotid gland, an MRI revealed them to be over and under the facial nerve structure. Not only was there the fear of cancer, there was the possibility of nerve damage leaving her with partial facial paralysis. It seemed that the best possible outcome would still be pretty daunting. Our doctor, Michael Boyajian, MD, was spectacular, he told us and our child everything, what to expect, what some of the risks were. She was scheduled for surgery.

Let me say that everyone at Children's National, from surgeons to nurses to food service and security are wonderful. They offer help before you ask. During surgery our nurse kept us updated, it was 10 hours, but we were kept informed every step of the way. I have never felt such anxiety and fear but everyone involved did all they could to help. That means a lot. The doctor came out to let us know that from what he could tell, the tissue did not appear to be cancer. He said that he had been very worried that it would be, he let us know that it still had to go to pathology, but he felt optimistic. I felt as if the weight of the world was lifted off of me. My daughter's face had been opened from the top of her ear to her lower jaw line and the nerve tree lifted out. Dr. Boyajian let us know from the get go that because of how invasive this was, it was a very real concern that nerve damage was possible.

After surgery she was swollen and had a drainage tube and bottle that any little girl would not like. I called it her buddy, she said she didn't like her buddy, so I bought her some felt and Velcro and we made colorful accessories to cover it with and she loved that! As the swelling went away she still couldn't smile on that side and said it was numb. Dr. Boyajian and staff said they were very confident that it would come back. It took about 3 months, but it did. The incision site is barely visible and she has no noticeable problems with facial movement. That side of her face and ear are hyper-sensitive to cold and heat now.

This was one of the most intense experiences of my entire life. I leaned on faith in God quite a bit. Children's National was and is a very special place. Everyone there is cognizant of the gravity of the situations that many people are facing. And in every way no matter how small, they are there to help!

Thankfully our story has a happy ending. When we were searching for folks with similar experiences we had difficulty finding any, so I hope this helps. Our little girl was operated on in July 2008, She was back to cheerleading before her facial movement had returned, by the end of football season she was almost 100 percent. She won an individual cheer competition this year (November 2009) and her highest scores were for her facial expressions. Incredible!!! Thanks to all the doctors, nurses and, staff!


Sa's dad, David

Pretty great smile!
Pretty great smile!


Video: Introduction to the Parent's Letter Project

The Parent's Letter Project lets Children's National Medical Center parents whose children have faced medical crises use their experience to support others.

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