On March 16, 2015, five-year-old Gabriella was sent to the hospital for further testing from her pediatrician’s office. We took her in because we noticed she was unable to walk straight or balance herself when she stood up. We also noticed she was tilting her head when she would watch TV or try to look and focus at something. The previous week she had complained about having a headache when she woke up in the morning.
Once we arrived at the hospital, we were pretty much fast-tracked and taken to the back quickly. After having the initial exam from the ER dr, a CT scan was ordered. A few hours later the neurologist came in to give us some grave news. The scan revealed that our once healthy and normal child who had never before been to the hospital for anything other than a minor fall, had a brain tumor. The tumor was located on the brainstem. There was nothing that could be done to remove it. An MRI the next day confirmed the diagnosis and opened our eyes into the world of pediatric cancer. Not only was the tumor on her brainstem but it was diffused, meaning the tumor was intertwined with healthy cells making removal impossible. It was a Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Glioma or DIPG. If you dare Google DIPG, you will find story after story of heartbreak and pain. There are about 250 children diagnosed with this tumor yearly in the U.S. Surgery is not an option. The only option we were given was radiation for about six weeks as well as an oral chemo drug which is normally given to adults and the possibility to participate in some ongoing clinical trials which may or may not help her at all.
Gabriella completed six weeks of radiation and also took an oral chemo drug concurrently. We are currently being treated in San Antonio with our oncologist at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. As of June 2015, the tumor has shrunk by over 60 percent.
As a family, we are strong Christians and believe in the power of prayer and healing miracles. Our family, along with many of our family members and church family are praying and believing that there will be a miraculous healing in Gabriella’s life. We are praying that this tumor continues to shrink and disappear.
Gabriella means “God is my strength.” She is unafraid and so brave and daring in all she does. This has proved to be one of the most remarkable and incredible part of our journey. We are so proud to see how hard she fights and how great her faith is at only five years old.
We continue to research, read, call, email and do all we can to give her a fighting chance to beat this. The cure for DIPG can’t come soon enough for us. We desperately need more time to find it and pray our baby girl keeps fighting until then.
Gabriella loves watching YouTube videos of baking and play-doh arts. She also loves all things girly including My Little Pony, Hello Kitty and Peppa Pig. She loves playing with her big brother and big sister. Gabriella passed away in the fall of 2015.
Every child who has been diagnosed with childhood cancer inspires us to Rally On to find better treatments with fewer long-term side effects and, ultimately, cures. Please join us in the fight against childhood cancer by making a donation or setting up your own Rally fundraiser today.