Why I'm Running
to bring light to those who need it most & show that no one fights alone, no matter how daunting it may be
About Team Mela

On Tuesday, July 14th, 2020, at approximately 4:30pm, our world was flipped completely upside down. Our sweet, HILARIOUS, joy spreading Mela was diagnosed with high-risk Neuroblastoma. After three ER visits and one 3-day hospital admission for constipation, my momma gut, that just knew something else was going on, was proven to be correct. I’ll never forget the moment when the doctor opened the door to our hospital room and somberly entered with his entire team. He knelt by Mela's bed and quietly muttered the words with tears in his eyes, “I’m so sorry, but your daughter has cancer”. The next week was a fast-paced whirlwind of emotions, testing, diagnosing, and really (REALLY) hard conversations. The good news (miracle of God): she defied the odds and was diagnosed before the cancer had spread (extremely rare for high-risk Neuroblastoma). She had fallen off a swing at the end of June which caused a huge hematoma (bleed) around her tumor which caused the symptoms that led to diagnosis.

The very next day, Mela underwent a tumor biopsy and port placement and by that Friday, she started chemo. She was in the hospital for nearly 3 months with multiple complications including fevers, GI bleeding, infections, and an infected blood clot in her heart. On August 18th, she underwent a total tumor resection that also discovered the tumor had invaded her colon which required approximately 5cm of her colon to be removed. Since her diagnosis, she has completed 6 cycles of chemo, multiple surgeries, two stem cell transplants, and radiation. We are currently still in the hospital recovering from her second stem cell transplant that caused severe liver complications. When she is fully recovered, and/or well enough to proceed, she will continue treatment with six months of immunotherapy. Because high risk Neuroblastoma has a high (50%) relapse rate and there is no proven cure for relapse, Mela will likely be entered into a trial for the next few years to increase her chance of long-term survival. Like many other pediatric cancer treatment regimens, there is a risk for long term complications such as hearing loss, infertility, heart/kidney/liver problems, and even secondary cancers.

Over the last 11 months, our emotions as parents have gotten the best of us, but Mela has never let her diagnosis dim her sparkle. She travels through each admission and harsh treatment with grace, smiles, and humor and is constantly reminding us of the strength and fight she has within her. She encourages us daily to keep the hope and to look forward to the days that she can be with her brothers, swim, ride her dirt bikes, and just be a kid again. She showed us in the beginning of this cancer diagnosis that she is a odds-defying miracle, and she will show us again and again, all with a huge smile on her face. Better days ARE ahead.

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