The NICK Foundation Sixth Annual St. Baldrick's Event
March 12, 2017
Operating Engineers Local 150 Union Hall 2193 W 84th Pl., Merrillville, IN US

 

 

 

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HaleighHaleigh

Haleigh was 10 months old when her health issues surfaced. The left side of her bottom became red and swollen. I took her to the doctor for x-rays on October 31st. Nothing was broken, so they concluded it was badly bruised.

Three weeks later, Haleigh’s bottom was still swelling and changing colors. We went back to the doctor, who referred us to a surgeon. Haleigh had an MRI which showed a large, growing solid tumor.

On Friday, November 30, Haleigh underwent a 7 ½ hour surgery to remove the grapefruit-sized tumor. While she was still in surgery, we were told that the preliminary biopsy showed malignant germ cell tumor, stage 2. This was our very own “D-Day” (Diagnosis Day). Our faith, family and friends strengthened us for this journey.

Haleigh recovered quickly from her surgery and began chemotherapy within a few days. The standard protocol for germ cell tumors was known to be 90% effective and required four rounds of inpatient chemo - five days each, three weeks apart. However, 6 weeks after completing this protocol, the cancer began to thrive again. On to Plan B. We were told she would now be given the salvage treatment, which was 40% effective when used in the 1970’s. We prayed for a miracle, yet knew the reality of situation.

Haleigh In TreatmentWith the odds against us, Haleigh had a stem cell harvest just after her fifth round of chemo. These healthy stem cells would be stored away for later. They were our Plan C -- if the salvage treatment didn’t work, they could be given back to her in a double stem cell transplant. Haleigh took four rounds of the salvage treatment, with the first round inducing a neurological shutdown in which she didn’t walk, talk, smile, or recognize us for six days. At first, it seemed the drugs weren’t working. We made preparations for the double stem cell transplant. However, on the day we showed up at Children’s to begin the transplant, Haleigh’s tumor marker came down significantly. The chemo was finally kicking in! It continued to fall over the next several weeks. Haleigh was in remission and had her last chemo treatment on July 13, 2002.

Haleigh is now a very healthy, active 10 year old. She has none of the potential side-effects of the surgery or the chemotherapy. Haleigh is very healthy and successful at school. She plays softball, takes piano and tumbling lessons. She is a big sister to Taylor and Avery. She is a living, breathing miracle!

We learned from this experience that life is fragile and precious! We learned to “ride the cancer roller coaster” – up one day and down the next. We learned to take one day at a time. And we learned to reach out to others and provide support, prayer and encouragement as they take their own cancer journey and we are thankful to NICK for helping us to do just that.