Gwen was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at the age of eighteen months. She had suddenly stopped walking; it turned out that she had a tumor in her right chest, which had grown into her spine and was severely compressing her spinal cord.
Within hours of diagnosis, she was in surgery. She returned from surgery with a huge scar running down half her spine, decorated with staples. Not much of the tumor was taken out, just enough to relieve the compression. That surgery was followed by five rounds of chemotherapy, another major surgery to remove the rest of the tumor, two tandem bone marrow transplants, radiation, and oral medication for six months.
She cheerfully crunched her last pill (because she could never swallow them!) a few weeks before her third birthday.
Gwen is now seven years old, and strong and healthy! Our family is so grateful for the treatments that saved her life, and for the angel nurses and doctors who cared for our daughter. We also, however, continue to deal with after-effects of those very harsh treatments: we are already seeing scoliosis due to the spinal surgery and radiation, and there are many other issues, including other cancers, that Gwen will always be at risk for. This is why the research CURE Childhood Cancer does is so important: not only do we need to save kids’ lives, we need to find better, less toxic ways of saving them!
Written By: Tabitha Mason, Gwen’s Mother