Natalie was 2 years old when she was diagnosed with a Yolk Sac Tumor. She is now 6 years old. At the time she was diagnosed, we were under the impression, for roughly 8 months, that Natalie had a hernia above her belly button that needed to be repaired. We waited until she was 2 years old to repair the hernia and, during surgery, it was determined that it was not a hernia, it was a malignant tumor. Tests were run immediately as well as many, many scans of her body to see if it was somewhere else. It wasn’t.
We all felt sick to our stomachs. It took me a few times saying it out loud to family members before it actually hit me. I was pregnant at the time and was really cautious to not become too stressed. Each round of chemo kept us admitted for 4 days. Her chemo needed to be constantly flushed so we had to be admitted each time. She had 3 rounds of chemo and her treatment lasted 4 months.
The support was overwhelming..The Floor 5 nurses, the Tomorrow Fund staff, our Tomorrow Fund families, all of our family and friends. Natalie was too young to understand what was going on but, as her parents, we needed some help. We used couples counseling and made sure to only cry when we were not near her which pretty much ended up being in the shower.
Natalie is now in Kindergarten. Her little brother was born while she was still in treatment in 2013. She plays soccer as well.
Being a “Survivor” does NOT equal being done with everything. It honestly never ends. Once she was off of treatment, we were constantly worried because she was no longer being monitored so closely and so often. When she did have her follow up scans and bloodwork, the dreaded anxiety would kick in. Chemotherapy is very dangerous and can have some poor side effects that do not show up until later in life.
I believe that Natalie will do just fine and will thrive as a Survivor. She is well aware of what she went through even though she does not necessarily remember it all like we do. As she gets older, she will be a voice to help others fighting this monster.
The biggest obstacle being a Survivor is the constant worry that it will come back. I am always looking at her skin and wondering if just a simple birth mark has anything to do with the chemo. She is now going through testing to see why her ovaries are enlarged, for instance. Is this chemo related or is it not?