They thought the surgery was over. But now Cindy and Carey Gosselin of Fort Frances face another uphill battle as their son, Cory, is scheduled to go back under the knife in January.
And this time, the teen will have to endure two surgeries because of complications from scoliosis, a curving of the spine.
First, doctors at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children plan to cut open Gosselin’s chest and remove three-inch pieces from seven of his ribs on one side of his body.
Then he’ll be put in a brace in hopes the ribs will grow back the way doctors want them to.
Because the ribs are compressing his lungs, the surgery is necessary for him to survive.
"Eventually, what it would do is he would suffocate," his aunt, Cindy Hall, explained Sunday.
When Gosselin recovers from that first surgery, doctors then will remove the two rods now fused to his spine and put in two different ones.
"We know that we’re there for one to two months," his mom, Cindy, said, admitting they weren’t certain if the timeframe would be extended.
Gosselin was diagnosed with scoliosis when he was two years old, and monitored by a specialist in Thunder Bay. But at age 10, that physician referred him to another specialist in Winnipeg.
He had two rods fused to his spine about four years ago in Winnipeg, which was expected to improve his back by one-third. With that surgery, there was a .3 percent risk of paralysis.
But because the rods have become unfused, that risk now jumps to 15 percent.
While this ordeal is emotionally draining, the Gosselins also are fighting with the Ministry of Health to get travel grant dollars. Upon referral from their Winnipeg doctor who performed the first surgery, the three flew to Toronto in August.
But Cindy Gosselin noted the ministry is saying it will only pay for her son to go as far as Thunder Bay
"[And] they’ll only pay for him and one companion," she added, estimating that one-week trip rang up about a $3,800 price tag.
Both parents, though, are determined to be there for their son. His mother plans to stay in Toronto for the duration while his father will be there for both surgeries.
Cindy Gosselin said neither one of them had vacation time left so they couldn’t both afford to book the whole time off work.
Their daughter, Crystal, will remain at home.
In an effort to help, Hall has set up accounts, "Cory’s Fund," at both the Royal Bank and CIBC here for anyone wishing to lend a hand. They’re estimating the final bill to come in over $20,000.
As for Cory, he’s keeping a brave face. While admitting he’s scared, he’s adopted the attitude that he’s done this once before so he can do it again.
The family will find out more information Friday when they head to Thunder Bay for a telemedicine link-up with their Toronto doctor.