Rally For Rory: Her Fight Against Cancer

March 6th, 2019. It was 3 days prior to sweet Rory’s second birthday and instead of enjoying a celebration at home with her big sister, Olivia, and her parents, Melissa and Luke, they had  rushed her from her pediatrician’s office to the ER at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, where physicians were awaiting their arrival.

Rory had been sick for a few days with what appeared to be a flu-like illness. She had been to the pediatrician and Melissa had been told to watch and wait as there was a nasty virus going around that typically peaked with the worst symptoms on day 5. However, Rory seemed miserable, she wasn’t improving, and something didn’t seem right to Melissa. She was very lethargic and her eyes had begun to appear unfocused and were crossing at times. Understandably alarmed, Melissa took her back to the pediatrician, this time to a different doctor in the practice.This doctor could not reach a logical explanation as to why her eyes would be unable to focus and suspected that there was likely a neurological reason that this was happening. He instructed them to go to Primary Children's Hospital for further evaluation and made arrangements for them to be admitted.

Once they were at Primary Children’s Hospital, Rory’s CT scan results revealed that she had a large brain mass and that she needed to be admitted to the PICU and prepped to have brain surgery to have it removed immediately. She then had an MRI which showed more details: the mass was a 7 cm tumor that was growing like a baseball at the back, left side of her brain. The tumor was so large that it was crowding her brain and it needed to be removed before ventricles were blocked and the brain began to flood with spinal fluid. They were also told that the tumor was likely cancerous. Devastated, they began to try and process this shocking news while also preparing for their baby girl to have brain surgery.

Surgery was scheduled for the following day. The wait for news was torturous and the fear that Rory’s parents and family felt that day was indescribable. After hours of nervous waiting, they received the amazing news that the surgery had been successful! The entire tumor had been removed without complications! As they breathed a deep sigh of relief that the surgery had been successful, they also had to begin processing the fact that Rory’s fight was far from over. They stayed in the hospital a few days, but pushed to get home so she could recover in her own space.

Almost two weeks later, Luke and Melissa got the pathology results that indicated that the type of tumor she had is rare and aggressive - ultimately it was diagnosed as being malignant. Most of the appointment was a blur, but it was clear that Rory’s fight had just begun. Within days, Rory had a central line placed, giving them intravenous access so she could begin to receive treatment.

The first round of chemotherapy treatment begins this Monday, April 1st. Due to her age and the harshness of chemotherapy, she will have to be admitted to the hospital for three weeks of treatment, and then one week home for recovery, for at least 3 cycles. That is all that is known for now. Little Rory will be in the hospital for the next 3 months. Then more scans...and likely more chemotherapy and stem cell rescue.

The Nichols need your help! Your prayers, support, and faith will help them get through this. However, the truth is that this will be unimaginably expensive over time. These funds will help to subsidize all the costs of being in the hospital, including travel back and forth from home to the hospital (a 60 mile drive), additional childcare for Olivia, meals, and comfort items for Rory. Melissa and Luke will also be missing work regularly now.

Melissa is a licensed clinical social worker and therapist. She works full time at a residential treatment facility for adolescent boys; she loves her work and is an amazing clinician. The difference she makes in so many children’s and family’s lives cannot be overstated. Her amazing skills advocating for others are what got Rory back in the doctor’s office for a second opinion.

Luke is a fighter and was an active duty Marine from 2009-2014. He was stationed in California for those years and is a combat veteran, with two tours to Afghanistan. He is now a civilian working for the Department of Defense at Hill Airforce Base.

Big Sister Olivia is now 7. She is the sweetest, smartest and kind-hearted big sister. She does dance and enjoys doing arts, crafts and singing. She’s in 1st Grade. While she knows Rory is sick, it’s a hard concept to grasp. She has been surrounded by extended family jumping in to keep her schedule and routine going, but she will have to be away from her parents and sister over the next few months.

Fundraising team (4)

Tania Beaudoin
Raised $250 from 5 donations
Brigham City, UT
Melissa Nichols
Jessica Furland
Team member
Raised $295 from 5 donations

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