Eye doctor visit for glasses evaluation turns into cancer diagnosis for Salem boy

SALEM, Ohio For many people, cancer is a terrifying thought. But for one 5-year-old boy from Salem, it’s just a word.

It’s been a long 11 months for Jonny Milburn and his family with an unexpected cancer diagnosis and a tough road to recovery.

It all started last April when Jonny’s teacher noticed his left eye turning inward.

“He wasn’t complaining, nothing was bothering him, he had no balance issues. It was just that eye. So we took him in to see if he needed some glasses,” said Angela Milburn, Jonny’s mother, from Akron Children’s Beeghly Campus. 

During that doctor visit, they noticed Jonny had pressure on the back of his eyes and it was recommended he see a specialist.

That’s when their world turned upside down — an MRI scan showed a brain tumor the size of a baseball.

“I was so scared because I could see him, he was right there and he looked absolutely fine and I just wanted to wrap him up and put him in the car and take him home because he was fine, and he wasn’t,” Angela said.

Jonny was immediately taken from Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley to an Akron Hospital, where he had surgery to remove the tumor two days later.

The family had to wait almost 10 days to find out that it was cancer, a tumor called medulloblastoma.

“We were still just recovering from the effects of surgery itself and we’re thinking this is cancer, this is chemo, this is radiation. What does this mean for his future, for recovery?” Angela questioned.

Still, Jonny found a way to remain positive through it all.

“I was still up in the hospital but I was having a great time,” Jonny said.

After therapy, 30 radiation treatments and seven of nine chemotherapy cycles, Jonny says he’s doing well.

“Been spending some time with my family and cousins and friends. It’s been really, really, really good,” he said.

Jonny had an 80 to 85 percent survival rate with this type of cancer.

He’s on course to finish chemo at the end of May and his last four MRI scans came back clean.


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