In honor of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, we are featuring some real life stories on the blog. Our aim is to put faces to names and learn about the reality of this dreadful disease. Please share this story with others, and let’s bring attention to the stories of these families. Please remember to give if and when you can to the charities that help these kids. If you have a story to share, please do feel free to send it to me at [email protected]
Today we feature the story of Rose and her daughter, Isabella.
Isabella Rose Wood was born on March 28, 2010. Other than swallowed meconium leading to a short stay in the special care unit, she seemed to be a happy, health baby. She met all her milestones except not sitting up, but nobody thought much of it and neither did we.
Dec 10, 2010 Isabella wasn’t feeling well. When we took her temperature we were surprised to see it at 96 degrees. A call to her pediatrician led to an ER visit. The on-call doctor ordered an x-ray to rule out pneumonia but found no fluid in the lungs. We were sent home with assurances that this can happen in children; Isabella was fine.
The next morning our lives changed forever. I got a call from the attending doctor at the ER saying to call him back asap. The chief radiologist was reviewing the films from the last night when he noticed a shadow behind Isabella’s heart. We rushed back to the ER praying it was just an artifact in the film. Isabella was sedated and put into the cat scan. After she finished we were led to a room to wait for the results.
After what seemed to be hours, a team of doctors came into the room; the shadow was a tumor known as Neuroblastoma, a form of childhood cancer. Isabella was immediately admitted to the hospital, and we met her oncologist. The rest of the day is a blur of blood tests, scans, and doctor consultations.
Isabella had stage 3 intermediate risk Neuroblastoma. The doctor shared the treatment plan: A surgery to remove as much as the tumor as possible, followed by at least 4 rounds of chemotherapy. The chemotherapy and possibly radiation were dependent on a genetic test from a biopsy of the tumor. The surgery was scheduled for December 13th, early in the morning. The doctor sat us down to discuss what would happen for the procedure. The surgery should only last 2 hours. He was confident but made sure we understood the risks. We tried to think of what our questions were but the only thing that we could say was to bring our little girl back to us.
The morning of the surgery was a very emotional time. We both wanted to be with her as long as possible, but when the time came, we had to hand our baby over to the nurse. The tears were flowing as we said our goodbyes, terrified we may be holding her for the last time. It is impossible to put into words the fear that we felt in our hearts as we paced the halls, waiting. Finally the doctor walked around the corner to tell us the good news, Isabella made it through the surgery just fine. He was able to remove approximately 70% of the tumor and inserted a central line, a Hickman catheter.
We were transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit. The poor baby was in pain and we wanted to stay by her side constantly. Nine days later we were released from the hospital with the first round of chemotherapy the next day as an outpatient in the oncologists office. We did five hours of intense chemotherapy for three days a week. Then on Christmas morning we were admitted back to the hospital for a virus that she couldn’t fight off because she had no immune system due to the chemotherapy.
Finally we got back the results of the genetic test that was sent to St Jude hospital, and she had stage three intermediate risk Neuroblastoma MYCN non amplified which is the best possible outcome, and she had to have only four rounds of the intense chemotherapy. Once we did three rounds of chemotherapy we found out that a move to Orlando, Florida was soon happening. So on February 28, 2011 we moved down to Florida and did our last round of chemotherapy that ended on March 12, 2011. After we were done with the chemotherapy we had two more stays at the hospital that were each two weeks long. One was for another virus and the other was for infection in her lungs. After this we were told we were officially in remission!
Isabella is now four years old and is three years cancer free. She is considered a survivor as of March 2013 which I can easily say was one of the happiest days of my life. This little girl has endured so much countless blood draws, ct scans, x rays, and much more. She is my hero and the strongest person I know with her ability to be happy through everything.