At age 3, Abby began experiencing a personality change. She went from a happy, loving, sweet girl to moody and having hour-long temper tantrums. She began complaining of headaches, which we assumed to be migraines. She would sleep them off and be fine later, but I still scheduled her to be seen by her pediatrician. We did a diet change, made a sticker chart for more water, and earlier bedtimes in hopes to get ahead of the migraines.
The migraines persisted and her pediatrician recommended we see an Ophthalmologist in case Abby needed glasses. The moment the eye drops entered her eyes, Abby's one eye turned directly to her nose. The eye doctor immediately noticed and quickly found her optic nerve to be under pressure and inflamed. He feared the worst and called all over the state to get Abby in asap for a scan. Bell's palsy set in and half of Abby's face became nonresponsive.
2 days later Abby underwent her first MRI. The anesthesiologist walked into the waiting room and I just knew from his expression it was bad. A lemon sized tumor had invaded my sweet girl's head and was pressing on her optic nerve. A few short days later, Abby underwent brain surgery at Children’s National in DC. 90% of her tumor was removed with 10% remaining due to being enmeshed with her optic nerve and arteries. She immediately had a port and g-tube placed once she recovered from surgery.
Abby underwent 3 months of induction chemotherapy, consisting of 4 different chemotherapies. The next 3 months included 2 harsh chemotherapies and stem cell rescue. Once these 6 months were finished, she began daily radiation under sedation for 28 days. After a month break, Abby began oral chemotherapy consisting of 5 pills, compounded to liquid to fit through her g-tube, with a goal of one year longevity. She completed 9 months before her body basically tapped out. To date, about 8% of her tumor remains. The "bug" as we call it, is currently behaving itself and is monitored through bloodwork and scans every 4 months.
Abby has regained her spunky personality and is constantly looking to make others smile and laugh. She never once questioned why she was in the hospital or complained. Abby was always drawing cards for her nurses and complimenting their scrubs, hair, or shoes each time they entered the room. She consistently asks when she can visit her doctors and nurses. She is the strongest girl I know and I am proud of her strength and grace throughout her journey.
November 27, 2023 Update - Abby's 8th Birthday:
Abby's latest scan showed some scar tissue growth, but the tumor seems to be stable. Still around 8% of the tumor remains and is believed to be inactive/dead tissue.
She has restarted physical therapy for back pain and looks forward to exercising. Her recent visit with the eye doctor showed her optic nerve was in great condition and no swelling or pressure - this was where the tumor previously was causing issues! December 5th will be her 4th cancerversary since diagnosis!
Abby loves to give back and helped create a nonprofit program in May of 2022. Abby has helped deliver 62 wagons throughout the USA to children battling cancer. She truly enjoys helping pick out items to either deliver in person or mail to the children. She said she likes helping others and making them smile! Follow Abby on Instagram - Abby's Carts of Courage