Helaina is my niece- the youngest of three girls, and a ray of sunshine for our family, despite everything she has been through.
One afternoon last fall, Helaina started to act out of character. She was lethargic, with poor appetite and had a lump on her stomach appear. Just two days after showing symptoms, on her second birthday, she had an appointment with her pediatrician. Helaina was sent for imaging due to a suspected hernia. The ultrasound found a mass the size of a football spread throughout her abdomen, surrounding her organs. She was immediately sent to the hospital, and diagnosed with stage IV high risk neuroblastoma. The cancer had already spread to her bones and bone marrow. She went home 12 days later after her first cycle of chemotherapy. Our whole family was in shock.
Over the past year Helaina has completed 6 rounds of chemotherapy, endured a 23 hour abdominal surgery to remove over 90% of her tumor with a partial bowel resection, spent 6 days intubated in ICU, completed physical/occupational therapy, struggled through 4 cycles of immunotherapy, and received one dose of MIBG radiation. She has had numerous hospitalizations for neutropenic fevers, thrush, pneumonia, procedures and surgeries. This all, of course, has taken a huge toll on her and the family.
Unfortunately, after one year, Helaina's cancer has only moderately decreased. Out of treatment options in Texas, she will soon go to Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC to pursue a trial therapy and a new approach to attacking her stubborn refractory cancer. This is her best chance to beat this monster.
This new endeavor will require much more than ever anticipated, but we cannot give up hope. Helaina will need to travel back and forth from Texas to NYC, to receive treatment and spend precious time with her two older sisters and family between treatments. Costs will include flights, food, hotels/accomodations, car transportation, and medical expenses. Funds will also be used to support her family at home while her mom travels with her.
Donations will help fund Helaina's treatments, help her family with expenses at home, and provide stability, while giving Helaina the chance to live.
Support Helaina in finding a cure. Everything helps! Will you be Helaina's hero?
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Video Music Credit: Tim Halperin 'Forever Starts Today'
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