Featured Little Hero Mia McDowell
Mia just celebrated her 2nd birthday. Her little bald head and central line are the only visible signs that she’s fighting for her life. Behind her smile and sweet spirit, her life revolves around cancer. In August 2011, at just 16 months old, she began a life of chemotherapy, surgeries, radiation & hospital stays.
A low-grade fever, less frequent wet diapers and fatigue were the only signs that something was up. Just a few hours after a visit to the pediatric clinic, she was introduced to the world of cancer. The diagnosis was stage IV high risk neuroblastoma (with the cancer spreading to her bone marrow, legs, spine and chest) and chemo began immediately. The treatment has been the same as many: six rounds of chemo, several surgeries, stem cell transplant & radiation – and antibody treatment to come.
Mia’s cancer has responded amazingly to treatment. After two rounds of chemo the tumor had shrunk by 54% and every last spot was gone, the next three rounds were just as effective. By the time Mia was ready for surgery, the grapefruit sized tumor was down to only 25% and was what remained was 95% necrotic. The surgeons were amazed in the OR when the entire tumor peeled away with ease, sparing her kidney and spleen. One more round of chemo followed surgery before Mia was scanned again and given her No Evidence of Disease status. February 6th was a glorious day.
Once declared NED, the fight continued with a stem cell transplant. She was randomized for only one. The chemo was fierce. Mia suffered the unavoidable mucositis, loss of appetite, nausea and chose to simply lay and exist for the following week. Her neutrophils came in quick and she began to improve. Her oxygen level was the only complication (possibly caused by her pain pump) but a small amount of oxygen gave her the boost she needed. She went home only 15 days after.
Since March she has completed 12 doses of radiation and is now in the middle of her fifth set of scans. If the results offer no surprises, Mia will begin her last phase of treatment on May 7th – six months of antibody treatment. A celebration is on the horizon and each day is one day closer.
There will never be a reason or an explanation as to why this is Mia’s path. Instead, she chooses to smile and live in the moment. She’ll continue to inspire others and fight any obstacle in her way. She’s a Princes Warrior!
*Read Mia’s story in her Caringbridge Journal or on Facebook thru her “notes”
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