September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Join us today, September 30, 2014 as CURE Childhood Cancer honors CURE Kid Sophie Piller. Join our fight as CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time! Donate to Sophie’s fundraising page.
On December 10, 2013, our beloved five-year-old Sophie was diagnosed with a cancerous mass in her liver. She had only three days of occasional stomach discomfort, a decrease in appetite, and a few episodes of vomiting. An x-ray and exam were done by her pediatrician, which prompted an ultrasound the next morning. This showed the mass and he arranged for immediate admission to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.
After careful consideration, the oncology and surgical team agreed that the tumor was too close to vital structures to safely remove the tumor entirely without significant risk of causing further injury or leaving cancer cells behind. Sophie endured two rounds of weekly chemotherapy. After these two rounds, the tumor had shrunk enough to be removed in late January.
The surgery day arrived, but a huge snowstorm (by Georgia standards) threatened to delay the surgery. After a three-hour car ride to go 70 miles, along back roads avoiding stranded cars, we arrived safely at CHOA. Sophie had the surgery the next day and her tumor was successfully removed. Four more rounds of chemo would follow.
In mid-February, we discovered that Sophie had developed a rare but significant complication from her surgery. She was having more pain, not eating well and losing weight at an alarming rate. She was readmitted to CHOA and a battery of tests and scans revealed that her liver was leaking bile into her abdomen, and it had formed a huge cyst.
A drain was placed and she was discharged with a feeding tube in her nose and a bag connected to the drain. For a month, we fed her formula through the tube with a pump three times a day and all night. We had to empty the drain twice a day. Despite that, she kept a positive attitude, started gaining energy and weight; and she didn’t let it slow her down. Unfortunately, the drain alone did not stop the leak.
Between her fourth and fifth rounds of chemo, Sophie had another major abdominal surgery to fix the leak. She recovered well and completed the last of her six rounds of chemo in mid-May. The treatment was followed by the best news we could have ever hoped for – a clean scan and encouraging blood work. She is now off treatment and is having blood drawn every two months for monitoring. Her access port was removed as well.
Throughout this six-month process, Sophie spent 40 nights in the hospital and missed a significant amount of kindergarten. She was always brave and rarely complained. We drew tremendous amount strength from our amazing medical team, our family and friends, and our community here in Rome.
We have had a wonderful summer. In addition to celebrating her sixth birthday, Sophie has spent time playing with her sister and friends, swimming, and going to camps. She has fully enjoyed feeling well again, and in many ways we have noticed that she seems more outgoing and confident than ever before.