September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Join us today, September 28, 2014 as CURE Childhood Cancer honors Abby Smith. Join our fight as CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time! Donate to Abby’s fundraising page.
Abigail Grace Smith (aka Abby) battled cancer for more than two-thirds of her life. In mid February 2006, Abby developed balance issues that did not allow her to walk without falling. On March 3, 2006, at the age of 23-months old, Abby was diagnosed with a golf ball size medulloblastoma brain tumor. She had a successful total tumor resection on March 6, 2006. Unfortunately, Abby developed posterior fossa syndrome within days after surgery, which caused her to lose most of her gross and fine motor skill capability for a period of time. Abby initially underwent four cycles of chemotherapy, 30 days of radiation and then eight maintenance cycles of chemotherapy. She completed her treatment in late May 2007. Abby began thriving and improving and was a picture of health.
After a routine follow-up head and spine MRI on September 28, 2007, Abby was diagnosed with drop metastases in her spine in multiple places. She had exhibited no symptoms. All of Abby’s MRI’s and spinal taps had been clear to date with no evidence of cancer since March 6, 2006. From October 2007-March 2008, Abby endured three cycles of high dose ICE chemotherapy and a cord blood and bone marrow stem cell transplant. Abby went on to receive 25 cranial/spinal proton beam radiation treatments during late May/June 2008. She completed her relapse treatment on June 30, 2008. Only two small places remained on Abby’s spine that continued to improve or stay stable.
For eleven months, Abby was on a 14-day cycle drug maintenance therapy. She continued to get stronger and thrive during this time. On June 23, 2009, fifty-one weeks post relapse treatment, Abby had a routine follow-up MRI. Her scan revealed a grape size tumor in her brain and haziness in her spine. Two inconclusive spinal taps raised further concern. Again, Abby had exhibited no symptoms. To battle this second relapse, Abby began a daily metronomic chemotherapy regimen administered at home on July 20, 2009, which continued through January 27, 2011.
Abby was hospitalized on January 28, 2011 due to extreme anemia and four unrelated infections which led to sepsis, a mild stroke, seizures, the beginning of multi organ failure and seven days in the PICU. Abby miraculously recovered and went home on February 12th. After overcoming this ordeal, we were very optimistic about her March 22nd MRI. Devastatingly, her MRI showed multiple lesions in the brain and at least one new lesion in the spine with haziness. As with all other relapses, Abby was completely asymptomatic. There were very few treatment options available for this third relapse.
Furthermore, Abby’s body told us that she was finished fighting due to problems maintaining any significant platelet count. She was only able to receive two single drug chemotherapy infusions. Yet, during this time, Abby continued to live a very normal, healthy, happy life. She was the flower girl in her dear babysitter’s wedding where she walked down the aisle ALL BY HERSELF on June 25, 2011.
Beginning on July 27, 2011, Abby started exhibiting symptoms that seemed more like a viral infection. On August 5th, Abby started having balance issues and lost her ability to walk independently. After a spiked fever brought us to the ER, Abby had a CT scan on August 8th that revealed at least two large tumors that were near her brain stem. We spent seven days at home before tumor related complications brought us back to the hospital where she ran into Jesus’ arms on August 17, 2011 at the age of seven-years-old.
Through her 65 ½ month journey, Abby’s determined and fighting spirit pushed her forward each day. She was our miracle girl!! Throughout her cancer diagnosis, Abby lived out the meaning of her middle name as she faced all of her hospitalizations, treatments and pricks and pokes with such grace that can only come from above. She will be forever remembered by her big blue green eyes, her beautiful heartwarming smile which connected you to her immediately, her love of pink, and her fashionable display of many bracelets at all times. Abby loved her family with the most sincere affection and was happiest when we were all with her. Our Christian faith has been our stronghold throughout our journey with Abby and continues to be as we face life without her.
Thank you for helping CURE as they endeavor to fund research and treatment options for the countless children like Abby affected by this terrible disease!