Samarra Amelia Pirrong is my 9-year-old niece and goddaughter who was just diagnosed with a Wilms Tumor. Her cancer is stage 4. She will have chemotherapy treatments for 6 weeks to hopefully shrink the tumors. If this works, she will then have surgery to remove the tumors and her affected kidney. If it does not shrink the tumors, then they will consider radiation treatments.
She is a fighter, and she has the love, support, and strength of all of you.
This is going to be a long and challenging road for Sammy and her family. While they are blessed to have healthcare, they also now have added costs of driving to and from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia regularly and special medical needs. And what they really need is time to spend with this beautiful, amazing, little person. But since we can't raise "time", maybe we can raise funds so that if they have to miss days at work so they can be there for a medical treatment, they can; or so they can afford to order food when they are too tired and heartbroken to cook; or so they can have someone come clean the house so that Sam is in a germ-free environment during chemo without the expence of missing time with one of her parents who would be doing that cleaning; or so that they can hire a babysitter for Ben and Mara, Sam's siblings, so they can all have a minute to breath.
Thank you in advance for your consideration. Any donation would be so appreciated. How can you put into words the gratuitude you have when someone helps you to spend more time with your child, especially when you don't know what tomorrow could bring?
Please know that we are just as thankful for your prayers and support.
My relationship or contact to the parties you're raising funds for: I am Sammy's Aunt.
How the funds will be spent: On expenses incurred by the family while one parent is unable to work due to being the primary caretaker of the patient.
Your withdrawal plan to get the funds from the campaign to the ultimate beneficiary/ies: This account is directly connected to Sammy's own Bank Account.
We are quickly learning that some of these second opinions cost close to $1,000 each, and we cannot thank you enough for your continued support.
Sammy is the kind of kid who tells adults they look beautiful when they put themselves down. She is the kid who met her closest friends by asking children who felt like they had noone to play with at recess, and who were sitting on the buddy bench, to come and play with her. She is the kid whose elementary technology teacher told me that she just always looked forward to , “that smile coming down the hall.” Sammy has always been optimistic, kind, unique, positive, and strong in her own quiet way. The last few months have not changed that; instead, the last few months have shown us the immensity of what such a small person can do with her positive mindset, her strength, her confidence as a unique individual, and the support of her unbelievable parents, siblings, family, friends, and team of medical professionals
June 23, 2017 was the last day of fourth grade for Sammy. On June 25th she went to her favorite water park with her mom and little brother and sister. On June 26th she came to my house in northwest NJ for a BBQ and fishing. On June 27th she went to the doctor for stomach pain. And on June 28th she ended up in her local ER because she couldn’t stop vomiting. It was there and then that doctors told Sam’s parents that she had a large mass in her abdomen, specifically on her kidney. And it was on that day that her mom called me from the ambulance and said, “They don’t know what it is, but they're sending us to a place called CHOP. It sounds weird, but its stands for Childrens Hospital, and they can help her better there.” After a pause, she added, “I know, it's kind of an unfortunate name, CHOP, but they said its good.” Neither of us said the word cancer, but we both knew what we were afraid of.
On July 7th Sammy was diagnosed with Stage 4 Wilms Tumors, kidney cancer. In a one or two year old, this diagnosis would not have been as rare. But Sam has been an anomaly in all things concerning her diagnosis. Its rare for a ten-year old to be diagnosed with a Wilms Tumor. It’s even more rare for a child to have such adverse reactions to the chemotherapy treatments she started immediately after diagnosis. It's even more rare for the tumor to be left in the child, but Sam’s cancer cells had spread into her aorta and surgery was risky. Finally, after 2 months of chemotherapy treatments that ultimately brought her to the ICU and to almost not making it three times, Sam’s expert team of doctors decided that it was more risky for the tumors to remain inside of her.
On August 31st, Sammy had her tumors, and her right kidney, removed, in an unbelievably complex surgery that included rerouting some vessels to help reduce the risk of her cancer spreading further because of the operation. After the surgery and recovery came an intense round of chemo and radiation combined, targeting all the cancerous cells in her little body. The results of everything once again led Sam to terrifying territory. To date, she has had 25-30 blood transfusion, including one horrific week when there were 11. I wish the list of life-changing dates ended there, but just this week, on Tuesday to be exact, Sam had another surgery to have her feeding tube inserted. And moving forward, there will be more dates forever remembered by our family as turning points, both amazing and challenging. Luckily, we have this one to add to the list now: December 1st, Sam is honored as the Miracle Child we know she is at U Penn’s Winter Soiree.
One day about two weeks ago I was with Sam for the day, and we were at the Burger Center to be checked out, get fluids, and make sure a nosebleed was under control. This was my first extended time at CHOP outpatient services, and as I looked around I was taken aback by how open, child-oriented, light, and beautiful the building was. I interrupted Sam’s viewing of Spongebob to ask her what she thought about CHOP. She took my question extremely seriously and thought about it for a few moments before replying, “The nurses are really kind. Yeah, that's the right word...kind... It's awesome here...how they can just focus on us kids...so I don't have to be at a scary grown-up hospital. I'm not scared here.”
On behalf of my family, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting CHOP, so that they can support all the kids like our Sammy who are fighting harder than they should ever have to. And thank you for supporting CHOP, so that when fighting is the only option they have, they have a place to go where they are not scared.