On June 9, 2014, our seemingly perfectly healthy baby, Andrew, was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma cancer (high risk, MYCN amplified, unfavorable histology). He was only 13 months old at the time and had never been sick, other than a minor cold when he was 9 months old.
Ten days prior to diagnosis, he bumped his head while playing peek-a-boo and developed a swollen bump on his head. We took him to the doctor twice for the bump and were told it was just a contusion and would resolve itself eventually. About a week after bumping his head, he started vomiting and stopped eating. We again took him to the doctor and were told he had a stomach flu.
A couple of days later, he developed a fever of 103 F, so we rushed him to the ER. The ER doctor thought the bump on his head was not normal for a contusion, so he ordered a CT scan. Within hours of arriving at the ER that day, we were told that our son had cancer and needed to be rushed into surgery to remove a large tumor from the left side of his head. To say we were in utter shock is an understatement! I, mama, was about 4 months pregnant with our second son and was beside myself, I could barely breathe.
Andrew's prognosis was pretty grim when diagnosed. He was covered in cancer head to toe. The only part of his body that didn't have cancer was his spinal fluid. The doctors were amazed that he was able to walk without excruciating pain. He never once displayed or complained of any pain/discomfort.
Our baby Andrew is a baby no more. He's now a 3 1/2 year old toddler with the strength and determination of a true warrior, hence his nickname "our little warrior". To date, he has endured 16 rounds of chemotherapy, 24 doses of radiation, 9 cycles of immunotherapy (3F8), 2 resection surgeries (head and abdomen), 2 central lines coming out of his chest and 1 port placed beneath his skin on his chest, countless blood and platelet transfusions and endless hospital visits and hospital stays. And yet, he still manages to smile and have a beautiful personality. He has relapsed twice since diagnosis. The first relapse was in December 2015; the cancer appeared in both legs, femur area. The second relapse was October 2016; the cancer appeared in his jaw bone as an actual tumor.
Since March 2015, Andrew has been treated in New York City at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) by a team of Neuroblastoma specialists. Neuroblastoma is a rare form of childhood cancer affecting approximately 700 children a year. MSKCC treats the largest number of Neuroblastoma patients in the country. For this reason, we chose to sacrifice a lot to help save our son. The financial burden of battling cancer is enormous, especially when traveling across the country for treatment.
We are extremely blessed to have had a village of people step up and help us from the very beginning. Our friends and family raised thousands of dollars through multiple fundraising events including a pancake breakfast, dinner with silent auction, online fundraising campaigns, restaurant promotions, car washes, dog washes, and more. We are forever grateful for this support, but sadly we need more. The battle continues, therefore the loss of wages and medical expenses continue as well.
Andrew will begin a new clinical trial (ch14.18 I/T) at Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) on 11/21/16 and will be inpatient for at least 5 days for this treatment. This means we will be spending Thanksgiving in the hospital and our family will be broken up, as our 2 year old son, Anthony, is not allowed in the hospital due to flu season. This is depressing, but it's our reality and sadly the reality for many others battling this monster called cancer. The current plan is to do 2 cycles of this treatment and evaluate results with scans. As of 11/16/16, an MRI confirmed the tumor in Andrew's jaw shrunk a little with the last dose of chemo he received and the MIBG and CT scan confirmed the rest of his body remains clear of disease.
Face Off With Cancer is honored to help support Andrew and jump into the face-off circle with him.