Ten years ago, my little girl was a four year-old happily splashing in puddles. Victoria was my joyful model for the picture on the What should a 4 year-old know? article that brought a lot of people here over the years.
Two weeks ago, Victoria was having surgery to remove a cyst on her jawline that had been bothering her for over a year. Numerous doctors dismissed it as nothing and told her to just leave it alone, but it was growing and we finally found a doctor who took it seriously. My baby had an IV and a breathing tube, and awoke to a drainage tube coming out of her neck for two days.
At her two week follow-up with the surgeon this week, we were informed that it was cancer.
In today’s world, the easiest way to update a whole lot of concerned loved ones at once is sometimes Facebook, and this was my status that afternoon.
It was cancer (papillary cystic acinic cell carcinoma) but the prognosis is good. He believes he got it all and it is one of the “best” parotid cancers to get. She has a 12% lifetime chance of getting it again. There’s no need for chemo or radiation, and this was probably the cause of her terrible headaches the past few months. Her case was forwarded to a specialist in children’s parotid cancers in Iowa and we have his recommendations too. We’re getting a second opinion just to be cautious, too. The swelling and leaking should stop in the next few weeks and there’s no infection. She’s feeling okay about the whole thing (though she’s sick on top of things, with this bug that Anna, Fiona and I have) and Dad took her for lunch and ice cream.
We are optimistic about her prognosis and we will be very proactive in finding information, keeping her immune system healthy and minimizing its chances of ever returning. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had my share of scary thoughts, google searches and late-night mama worries, but knowledge is power and we’re pretty good at accumulating a lot of knowledge around here.
What has really struck me during this ordeal is how strong, funny, brave, rational and all-around amazing this kid of mine has been throughout it all. From researching parotid glands on her own to keeping up a hysterical run of gallows humor at times to telling me “Mom, just don’t freak out,” she’s been wise beyond her years and incredibly positive.
Every person in our family is now sick (with all different things!) and we are still recovering from 3 birthdays in one week and a week of hosting a super fabulous extra teenager and all sorts of adventures, both good and bad. I hope to be back soon, but I thought I’d fill you in on all of this.
My goals for all of us the next few weeks involve rest, love, laughter, good nutrition and good times together. Oh, and somehow catching up on laundry…
Oh yes, and getting the materials to make this next month, because that just looks awesome.
Kiss your babies, count your blessings and let the laundry wait if you have to.