On June 24th, 2011, at the age of 3, Lauren was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive cancer called alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma.
What started out as an innocent stomach ache ended in the ER with a CT scan that showed a large mass in her abdomen.
Lauren was treated at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa. She underwent 43 weeks of chemotherapy and 28 days of radiation which she had to be anesthetized for daily. We hit some road bumps along the way; she lost a significant amount of weight during her radiation treatment, so she had to have a feeding tube placed for supplemental feedings; one of the chemotherapy drugs (Vincristine) caused neuropathy in her legs which caused her to use a walker and eventually a wheelchair. We spent the majority of 2011 in-patient at St. Joseph’s for treatment.
Lauren has also had some post-treatment side effects from the harsh chemicals and radiation. Her immune system was severely affected, so she develop multiple ear and sinus infections and eventually had to have her tonsils/adenoids removed and tubes placed in her ears. The Vincristine also weakened the muscles in her eyes which developed into strabismus. This required her to have surgery in both eyes. Lauren has been diagnosed with a low heart rate which is currently being monitored.
Through all this, we are so happy and blessed to say that as of June 2017, Lauren has been in remission for 5 years. She is our strength, our courage, and our hero. Lauren enjoys music, dancing, cheering and anything to do with the Tampa Bay Lightning (she is a diehard fan). Lauren is also passionate about finding safer, more effective treatments for children with cancer. A year ago, Lauren raised over $10,000 for NPCF by shaving her hair. Her dreams came true having the TB Lightning players shaved her hair at the event.
Lauren reminds us daily to enjoy life moment to moment. Cancer is not prejudice; it can strike anyone at any time. We continue to fight along Lauren’s side and look forward to celebrating her 50, 60, and 70 year cancer-free!