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. Abby loves to give back and helped create a nonprofit program in May of 2022 to aid other children battling cancer in the hospital in the state of Maryland. She is the strongest girl I know and I am proud of her strength and grace throughout her journey.
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