For those of you who do not know, Hazel's treatment plan is broken down into 3 Phases. Phase I consists of 6 rounds of Chemotherapy and surgery. Phase II consists of a round of high-dose Chemo coupled with a Stem Cell Rescue (which is like a Bone Marrow transplant without needing a donor, but instead harvesting her own bone marrow/stem cells in the beginning of treatment), and radiation. Phase III consists of Immunotherapy treatment. In total, this is about 18 months of treatment. The chemo that she begins with tonight is the 6th round, and the very last round of Phase I!!!!! I cannot believe we have made it this far and honestly could not see this day coming for a long time. I am so unbelievably thankful for how our journey unfolded to get us to this point, given that she has done so well. But I am also so glad that we do not ever have to go back!
Another thing that has blown my mind is something that Aaron and I realized after Hazel's surgery while speaking with Dr. Bliss, her surgeon. He informed us that the tumor that he removed from our daughter was somewhere around the size of a tennis ball. This came as an absolute shock to me because this tumor has already shrunk more than 50%, and since her diagnosis, I have been under the impression that the original tumor was about the size of a lime. Boy were we wrong! Her original tumor was, in fact, about the size of a nerf football or small melon! AHHHHHH! How did I not know this?! I saw her original scans; I spoke with all of the doctors; I knew what we were treating, but I had no idea a monster of this size was invading our little Hazelnut's body! I truly believe that, somehow, God protected me from this information because I was in no way ready for it. But now that it is out and we have almost completed this part of our fight, He allowed me to become aware of this travesty. Because I wanted to see it for myself, I went down to Medical Records and had all of her scans put on a CD for me. When I opened her original MIBG scans, tears flooded my eyes. I have included the image below, and hopefully you can see several images of a grey body/abdomen. There is a bright white mass along this side of her abdomen, and that is the tumor!
Who is as happy as I am to have that thing out of her?!! Because that huge tumor is so aggressive and Neuroblastoma likes to hide out, we have to continue with aggressive treatment. The next step is her Stem Cell transplant, which will be in about 5-6 weeks from now. I look forward to spending this time at home as a family! Please keep us all in your prayers as we prepare for that arduous next step. And continue to think of Hazel as she goes through this last round of Chemo. This is the toughest round, so please pray for her little body!