Our cancer journey started with a sport physical

A routine check-up turned into a cancer diagnosis for our 13-year old daughter

BlockOutCancerLast year as my daughter, Kailyn, was starting eighth grade, she decided she wanted to play volleyball. She needed a physical to try out, so I took her to a local urgent care center for a basic sport physical. Because she had been diagnosed with a heart murmur when she was much younger, the doctor at the urgent care center would not give her permission to play and referred us to our pediatrician.

Luckily, her pediatrician was able to see her on a Saturday so she could get that sport physical done in time for tryouts. The appointment turned serious when the doctor started pushing on Kailyn’s stomach. She felt something hard and thought it might be her bowels. He told me to give her Metamucil and follow up on Monday for an ultrasound. On Monday, Kailyn called me from school to say that her stomach hurt. I took her straight to the ER.

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Raegan’s Story: Wilms Tumor Treatment at Mott Children’s Hospital

mott blog - raegan kromer block out cancerChristina Kromer looks back on it as a real whirlwind.

“It all happened so quickly,” said Christina of her daughter Raegan’s journey at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

Her 16-month-old daughter Raegan seemed to be doing fine. She was a happy baby — very social and playful. She wasn’t showing any symptoms of distress.

So Christina, of Howell, was terrified when she went to change her daughter’s diaper before a nap one afternoon to find blood — lots of it.

Her local pediatrician told the Kromers to come to her office in Howell right away. There, after an ultrasound, Raegan was directed to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

“They were expecting us,” Christina and her husband Benjamin said about their initial experience at Mott. “They had a fellow from the surgery department ready to see us.”

Raegan underwent a CT scan and doctors confirmed the problem. Raegan’s right kidney had a form of kidney cancer known as a Wilms tumor, or nephroblastoma.

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Fighting for a cure

mott blog - faith falzoneThis weekend, we attended the Griese, Hutchinson, Woodson “Champions for Children gala at the University of Michigan. It is a fundraiser for C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and the Charles Woodson Clinical Research Fund. Last year, my daughter Faith was the guest of honor. She was there as a representative of the many children at Mott who have a disease for which there is no cure.

Last year she was given a pass by her doctors to leave the hospital for the evening to attend the gala.  She had just had most of her colon removed and she had to have another surgery before she was able to be discharged from the hospital. I remember being skeptical that it was a good idea for her to attend. Her doctors had to change her total parenteral nutrition schedule, and I was worried that she would get too tired.

The morning of the gala, however, Charles Woodson came to see her in the hospital.  That changed everything. I knew from that moment it was going to be a great night for her. She had an instant connection with Charles, and finally – after a few long weeks in the hospital – she was starting to act like herself.

As magical as the night was, I left that evening and went back to the hospital to face the reality that we deal with every day. Even though Faith had been invited to attend because of her disease, I remember wishing that night that Faith had a disease that wasn’t so rare. So that I could feel more hopeful for a cure for her.

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