At close to 4 month's old Chloe started to run a mild fever. We woke up on aThursday to find that she had gotten sick sometime in the night and she was burning up. Thinking that she had the flu and given how high the fever was we made a trip to her pediatrician that day. During the process of determining what may be going on a urine and blood test was run and sent to the lab while we waited. Urine test came back with traces of white blood cells and the blood showing that it looked like an infection of some kind was going on. The immediate thought was a urinary tract infection (UTI), the doctor explained that these were common in little girls and that it could be taken care of with some antibiotics. One of the concerns though was that because of her age if it had or was spreading to her kidneys that could make things substantially worse. The doctor commented that typically for UTI's they would give her a shot of antibiotics here and send us home, however, because she was not quite 4 month's old yet she wanted to send us to the hospital for a broad spectrum antibiotic via an IV to make sure they kill what ever bug may be growing in her and to check and to get an ultrasound of her kidneys to make sure it had not made it that far. So we packed her up and headed right over to the local hospital. We got our room and Chloe was started on her IV. The hospital wanted to keep her over night for monitoring and then they wanted to do the ultrasound the next day. Tina and I both stayed with our little girl over night trying to sleep in a chair only made for one. The next day (Friday) Chloe had her ultrasound and we headed back up to the room. Tina's mom was kind enough to come relieve us for a couple of hours to go home and get some sleep before coming back to pick up Chloe and return home. We had only been home maybe an hour when I received a call from a doctor who we hadn't met or talked to before. I recall a tone in her voice that automatically put me on guard, "We have found a large mass in or near her abdomen. We are going to transport her to Children's Hospital with her grandma by ambulance and we need you and her mom to meet her there. We want to get tests started right away before the doctors and everyone go home for the weekend." If she said much more than that or anything afterwards I don't recall it. I broke the news to Tina and we immediately headed to the hospital. Testing involving imaging, poking and restraining our little baby girl began and would last over the next few day's intertwined with doctors in and out of our room, forms being signed, questions asked and no sleep. Initial diagnosis came back that they believed, but were not positive of, that it was a germ cell tumor. It was explained that while not common they do see this type of thing in little girls. It was explained that they are tumors that grow on the ovary, 99% of the time they are benign and treatment involves taking an ovary, a fallopian tube and the tumor with no Chemo needed. While the news was devastating Tina and I both realized it could have been worse.
Surgery was scheduled. The surgery took several hours with Tina and I waiting for the beeper to sound signaling the surgery was done and we would soon have our baby back. Finally the beeper goes off and we head to the recovery room. I remember Tina asking me while we wait "what if it is cancer?" and all I could think of to say to her was "that if in fact it was, we bear down and beat it with her, there is no other option". The surgeon walks in. I was standing and Tina sitting. He looks at me and tells me that I probably want to have a seat. I remember thinking why do I need to have a seat, you don't need to sit down to hear good news. I sit next to Tina and the surgeon proceeds to explain that the surgery went well and Chloe did not bleed hardly at all and did not need any blood. This was one of the main concerns when the surgery was being discussed. Then the "but" was mentioned,,,,,,,,but the tumor was not coming from her ovary like we thought it was,,,,,,,,,,,it was actually stemming from her bladder and about the size of a grapefruit. The doctor pauses and has a look on his face so I ask if this the same thing just from a different area, still benign, etc. He tells us no, and explains his initial assessment is that it appears to be a tumor known as Rhabdomyosarcoma (Rab-do-my-o-sar-coma), and that it was definitely malignant. Pathology would have to confirm. Chloe was being taken back up to her room, Tina and I now had to go tell our friends and family waiting for us back at the room that Chloe had cancer. We were now in the hospital until whenever while Chloe continued to be poked and diagnosed.
A few day's later it was confirmed that Chloe's cancer was Rhabdomyosarcoma sub category Embryonal. It was also determined that they did not feel they had gotten it all as they saw "positive margins". Another surgery was scheduled for later down the road, her Hickman or central line as its called for the chemotherapy was implanted and we began our new life as parents with a "Rhabdo Baby".
A year and a half or so later, a second surgery, cat scans, chemo treatments, learning what it means to have a child with cancer and all the things that go along with that emotionally and physically, a scare that there was a reoccurrence, and our first cat scan since she has been taken of treatment coming back clear and here we are with just an amazing little girl who has shown a strength that I am so envious of and who has never missed a beat.
Through it all no matter how it appeared she was feeling she never stopped smiling as if to say Mommy and Daddy, we're going to be ok.
David, Tina, and Chloe