- Associated Press - Monday, June 30, 2014

TWO RIVERS, Wis. (AP) - Jimmy Vanderlinden is like many other 7-year-old boys. He likes to watch TV, especially “SpongeBob SquarePants,” and enjoys video games as well. He prefers to run up slides instead of sliding down, despite his mother’s protests.

But the soon-to-be second-grade student never learned to ride a bicycle. And he’s already endured two brain surgeries and a year’s worth of chemotherapy.

“But Jimmy was lucky,” his optimistic mother, Val Vanderlinden, pointed out. “He didn’t lose his hair from the chemo, so he looked like he was normal.”

The symptoms started when Jimmy was 3 years old. He was vomiting two to three times a day. But it was only when his kindergarten teacher saw him having seizures that Val asked their doctor for a referral to a pediatric neurosurgeon. It was in 2011 that doctors found a ganglioglioma tumor in Jimmy’s left temporal lobe.

Even though the tumor is slow-growing and non-aggressive, a resection of the tumor early on is necessary.

Doctors told Jimmy about this on his fifth birthday; Val insisted they push it to the next day.

While the surgery helped, it did not completely remove the tumor. Patients with this type of rare tumor, which is more common in children and young adults, usually become terminal by their late teens or 20s, Val told HTR Media (http://htrne.ws/1jkdsGh).

In the beginning, the Vanderlindens had trouble navigating their way through the hospital. After asking for directions, a doctor, trying to be reassuring, said they’d find their way around the place fairly quickly.

“This made me sick,” Val recalled. “I didn’t want to know my way around this building. But we learned. And it’s become our life.”

In June 2012, doctors did a more aggressive surgery that resulted in Jimmy essentially having a stroke. He temporarily lost control of the right side of his body for a few months and permanently lost peripheral vision on both sides.

He now favors his left side and is “a little clumsy on his feet,” Val said, which explains how he never gained enough coordination to ride a bike.

“The Jimmy we know is not the one he could’ve been,” Val said.

But she went further.

“The Jimmy we know now may not be the same Jimmy we’ll have tomorrow.”

Val explained that if the tumor grows even a millimeter, Jimmy’s memory, speech or sight could be affected.

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