The Kariher family of Gulf Breeze is just one of many families who have learned that you don’t have to look far for the best pediatric medical care. After searching the U.S. for the best physician to operate on her son’s brain tumor, Jules discovered that the best care was right in her own backyard at The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart.

It was a mother’s intuition that made Kariher determined to find the source of her 9-year-old son’s mysterious, painful headaches. Baseball, sailing and all the activities that a fourth-grader enjoys were interrupted when Fisher began experiencing severe headaches in February 2017. They seemed to occur about every three weeks. When he experienced three of these migraine-like headaches in the span of three weeks, “something didn’t feel right,” said Jules, who urged their pediatrician to order an MRI.

The Sacred Heart Optimal Imaging team in Tiger Point performed the MRI and the source of Fisher’s headaches was discovered – a tumor deep in his brain. After consulting with several neurosurgeons around the country, Jules and her husband, Christopher, was told that one of the most skilled pediatric neurosurgeons in the nation was Dr. Matthew Pearson at The Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart.“Dr. Pearson is amazing – wonderful, very calm and personable,” said Kariher.

The couple had the same fears any parent would have when brain surgery on a child is needed: Will he be different after surgery? Will there be any long-term effects? “Dr. Pearson told me, ‘I want to return your son to you just as you brought him to me.’ And he did exactly that,” she said.

After a grueling, nine-hour craniotomy and a three-day recovery in Children’s Hospital, Fisher has made a complete recovery and is already back on the baseball field. His rare tumor turned out to be benign, fortunately. When asked what he remembers about the time he spent healing in the hospital, Fisher, now 10, said, “I liked the nurses the best. They made me feel comfortable and safe, and like everything was going to be alright.”

The team even learned what Fisher’s “likes” are and made sure he had a baseball pillowcase on his pillow during recovery and a big painting of a sailboat in his hospital room. “People don’t realize the gem we have in our backyard,” said Kariher. “We have the best of the best right here! We were Sacred Heart Foundation donors before, but our contribution to the hospital has more meaning today. It is truly a gift from our hearts. We are forever grateful to Dr. Pearson and to everyone at The Studer Family Children’s Hospital for giving us Fisher back healthy and whole.”