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Wesley, 14

Hanover | Services: Otolaryngology

A Collaborative Approach

A few years ago, Wesley Ballance, 14, pointed out a small lump on his neck to his parents. Over the next three years, the mass would recur, even after it was surgically removed twice. In their search to identify the underlying cause of the mass, the family came to the ENT (ear, nose, and throat) team at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.

“When you need answers, you go where the people are the best,” says Wesley’s mom, Lisa. “The benefit of it being a teaching hospital is that not only did they want to educate residents, but they wanted to help educate us at every step too. We didn’t want to hear that Wesley would need a third surgery in as many years, but they took the time to explain things and engage us in the process.”

The clinical team diagnosed Wesley with a thyroglossal duct cyst, a congenital neck mass resulting when a duct inappropriately remains in place after the formation of the thyroid gland in utero. Once the cyst and the underlying cause were identified, surgery was performed to remove the cyst and duct, as well as a portion of the hyoid bone.

With the surgery completed successfully, Wesley should not experience any additional recurrence of the cyst. Wesley didn’t mind that the procedure led to a slight deepening of his voice, and he is looking forward to starting high school in the fall. “The thing I liked most was that they talked to me,” says Wesley, who enjoys playing the upright bass in school orchestra and is working toward his pilot’s license. “They looked into my eyes and let me have a voice and help make decisions.”

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