re: a big week for a little girl

Ma has been with our family for 7 weeks now and has settled in amazingly well.  

She loves Bizzy, Pippa and music.  Put together, she is quite content to have lengthy dance parties with the girls.  

She is a healthy eater.  The last weigh-in showed that she had gained 8 pounds in the first 2 months she had been in the States.  I wouldn't be surprised if she has packed on a couple more pounds since then.  

She is a strong little girl.  She recently took her first unassisted, albeit wobbly, steps.  

She is beginning to repeat sounds and words and can clearly say, "uh-oh".  

All appearances show that she is a healthy 14-month-old girl.

However, looks can be deceiving.  Every discussion I have with her doctors is a sobering reminder that she is fighting cancer.

At the last eye exam on September 10th, the eye surgeon was quite unhappy with his findings.  While the left eye socket is healing well following enucleation, he found some fluid in the right eye along with some new tumors.  They were able to treat the tumors with cryotherapy and laser therapy while she was under anesthesia.  However, the growth of the new tumors is disconcerting (to say the least) and an obvious indicator that systemic chemo alone will not cut it.  

The new plan is to continue the systemic chemo to reach any cancer cells that may have metastasized from her eyes to other parts of her body.  In addition, they will administer intra-arterial chemo on the same day as the systemic chemo.  There has been evidence of synergy between the two chemo treatments when administered simultaneously.  Upon doing a little research myself, I have found that the intra-arterial treatment is quite new.  However, there have been very promising results showing that the tumors have decreased in size significantly with only 2-3 treatments in patients like Ma with retinoblastoma.  Since Ma's eyesight from her right eye is still quite good, from what we can tell, the push to save that eye is urgent.

On a less urgent note is her hearing.  Ma has her hearing tested before each round of chemo, since one the side-effects of one of the drugs is hearing loss.  Her last two hearing tests indicated she has mild hearing loss, especially in the higher frequencies.  While she can still hear just fine if we speak directly to her, she loses some of the peripheral sounds that fill in the holes, if you will.  This audiologist believes this is something she has had from birth because the pattern of her hearing loss is not consistent with the pattern of hearing loss caused by chemo.  They will continue to monitor her hearing to track any further hearing loss and adjust her chemo accordingly.  As of now, there are no plans to fit her for hearing aids.  The follow-up when she returns home to the Ivory Coast is just too difficult to manage.

This is a big week for a little girl.

Ma has systemic chemo and intra-arterial chemo on Tuesday, and the rest of her systemic chemo on Wednesday of this week.  In addition, Thursday of the following week she has an all-day prosthetic eye fitting at Kellogg.

Ma needs your prayers:
  • Please pray for healing ... that the tumors disappear and that there are no traces of cancer left in her body ... ever!
  • Please pray that she responds well to the chemo treatment with minimal ill-effects.
  • Please pray that she remains otherwise healthy during this upcoming flu season.
  • Please pray that she continues to find comfort and peace from us.
  • Please pray that her family in the Ivory Coast finds peace and comfort as well.
  • Please pray that our family stays strong during this busy time.
Thank you!!