#SarahSmiles GBM Cancer Journey

Our lives changed forever on January 27, 2018 when Sarah began having a series of seizures at home. We rushed her to the emergency room where a CT scan had discovered a mass in her brain. While there she had a stronger seizure. The attending doctors advised that she be transported to a Kaiser facility better equipped to handle her situation.
The decision was made to airlift her to Kaiser Fontana where they monitored her for a week during which time they performed a multitude of tests. A team of specialists was assembled to determine the best course of action to take a sample of what was then estimated to be a slow-growing, non-invasive and more than likely benign tumor.
Eventually a decision was made by the surgeon to completely remove the tumor and have a biopsy sent out for testing.
What was supposed to be a three hour surgery took over seven. The biopsy taken of the tumor later revealed it to be a high grade Astrocytoma aka Glioblastoma (GBM), a malignant and fast growing tumor containing roots which hide and grow quickly. Sarah was to undergo 33 rounds of proton radiation treatments along with 6 weeks of daily chemo (Temozolomide).
Before commencing treatment she underwent outpatient surgery where they placed a chest port into her chest. The port makes it easier for her doctors and nurses to access her blood vessels for medications and tests. It also allows the chemotherapy medication to be delivered into her bloodstream through a large vein near her heart.
Although she was able to finish the full round of radiation treatments, her body’s health would only allow her to complete 4 weeks of the chemotherapy. She had to receive numerous platelet transfusions, blood transfusions along with two hospital stays to boost her immune system. The doctors allowed her a five week chemo-break before beginning her year long maintenance chemo regimen which would begin in July 2018.
The final treatment in an attempt to rid her of possible remnants is a year-long maintenance chemotherapy via bi-monthly infusions at Kaiser Pediatric Infusion Center in Los Angeles where she is given, through her chest port, two different chemo medications: Irinotecan and Avastin.
The pediatric oncologist has ordered that Sarah undergo MRI scans every two months to monitor the area for any new growth.
The love and support we have received since day one that Sarah’s condition became known has been tremendous. We cannot overstate how instrumental your prayers have been in helping us to navigate this most difficult trial. The tangible support we received has helped us to manage the financial burden and allowed us to focus on Sarah. For all of this we say a very heart-felt “thank you” to all involved.


Kathleen Donegan
Santa Clarita, CA

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