Gabi is 10 years old and in the 5th grade. She has 3 sisters and is a very active little girl. Her favorite hobbies include dancing, reading and hanging out with friends. Her story begins with a miracle and we pray that it will end with a cure.
In early January 2011, 9 year old Gabi went ice skating with friends. She fell and landed on her right knee. After 3 weeks of pain with little improvement, she went to the doctor. X-rays were taken and nothing was found. After 3 more weeks, swelling was noticeable and she was still experiencing pain. We went back to the doctor where repeat x-rays were taken. Doctors found what looked to be a stress fracture. She was put on crutches and scheduled for an MRI.
March 10th, 2011 was the date for her MRI and a date that changed our lives forever. The radiologist informed physician that Gabi's MRI results showed what looked to be osteosarcoma-cancer.
When we were told this news, it was shocking, heartbreaking, scary, unnerving and so many other emotions- all at the same time. We knew nothing of her prognosis, what it meant for Gabi or if the cancer had spread.
We were seen by an orthopedic oncologist who specializes in bone sarcomas that very next day. He reviewed the initial testing and the MRI and he believed it to be one of 3 possibilities; 1)osteosarcoma, 2)ewings sarcoma, or 3)an infection that would require high doses of antibiotics through a surgically implanted port. No matter what the diagnosis, we knew the doctor would have to remove the lower part of her femur and she would have to have reconstructive knee surgery to include a prosthesis to replace the amputated part of the femur. None of these options were palatable, but we were praying for the lesser of "three" evils.
Gabi was scheduled for a surgical biopsy on March 14, 2011. Results confirmed the doctor's suspicion...osteosarcoma- a cancer of the bone that destroys tissue and weakens the bone. This is a very rare cancer, only 400 childhood cases identified per year. Only 3% of all childhood cancers are osteosarcoma. Leave it to my baby to be rare! The doctor explained that the iceskating incident actually saved her life. If not for the fall, we may not have known that there was anything wrong with her knee until it was too late.
Her recovery from the surgery was rough. She had a hard time coming out of the anesthesia. 4 days after the biopsy, she was set up with a pediatric oncologist at a children's hospital. Her treatment will be rough and it will be a long journey. Her chemo treatments are going to be aggressive and will require 4-5 day hospital stays per treatment.
And so Gabi's journey begins here. We are optimistic in her future and have the utmost faith in her doctors. Above all, we know that she is in God's hands, He is in control and He has a plan. Thank you for your prayers and support.
Andy and Debbie Shull
“For I know the plans I have for you.” Jeremiah 29:11