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Gabi’s Story

Gabi was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma on March 10, 2011 at the tender age of 9.  She endured 9 months of high-dose chemo's, several unplanned hospital admittances due to fever/neutropenia and a very radical rotationplasty surgery.  She is currently NED (No Evidence of Disease) and doing very well!  Thank you for visiting her site. Please read "My Story" to learn more.

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


Latest Journal Update

Scans (#8 post-chemo)

Hello Gabi's Guardians,

It has been a very stressful week here, but thankfully, all is well. Gabi had her 8th set of post-chemo scans on Mon, Oct. 6. She had blood-work drawn, a CT scan, plain films of her surgical leg, and a bone scan- it was a long day. We made the hour long drive back to Warrensburg and then heard from our oncologist; her blood-work, CT scan and plain films all came back fine...BUT there was an abnormality on her bone scan. They thought they saw what looked like a stress fracture, but they weren't sure. I asked if it could possibly be something more (a recurrence). I was told, "yes it is always possible, but the radiologist really thinks it looks like a stress fracture. He wants to do an MRI to be sure."

Our MRI was set up for 2 days later on Wed, Oct. 8.  Sounds innocent enough, right? Wrong. First of all, when dealing with a child who has a history of cancer, ANY abnormality on ANY scan on ANY part of the body is never taken lightly because there is always the possibility of the unthinkable. Second, before Gabi was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, it was originally thought to be a stress fracture. Hearing that word again did not induce warm fuzzies.

The 2 day wait for the MRI was difficult at best. We had many well-wishes and prayers bestowed upon our family- which was greatly appreciated; but functioning in the day to day was just not easy. All you can think is "what if?" We all went about daily life, wearing a mask and putting forth a brave front, all the while worrying about even the slightest chance of recurrence. I can't even imagine what it was like for Gabi. I am in awe of her strength. Wednesday finally arrived. We made the hour drive back to the city for the 3pm appointment, only to be held off for another hour because they were running behind schedule!  That last hour seemed like days. 

Gabi finally had the MRI (which lasted another hour) and we were hoping for answers soon after, but because the scan was so late in the day, that didn't happen. We were expecting results first thing this morning (Thursday), but that didn't happen either. Our worrying intensified throughout the day. Gabi, Andy, friends and family were texting me throughout the day to see if I had heard anything. I was in frequent contact with our oncologist all day, but she still wasn't able to find the written report of the MRI. Everyone was becoming increasingly frustrated. Towards the end of the business day, I was told our oncologist physically tracked down the radiologist and made him go over the scans with her (gotta love Dr. Max)! Turns out that the abnormality was not a recurrence OR a stress fracture...it was new bone growth just under the metal plate in her leg- most likely due to all the dancing she's been doing!  We are so grateful for this news, I can't even begin to describe it! Gabi is still considered NED!  Thank you God!  

These last 3 sets of scans over the past 18 months have had us shaken to the core and we would be fine if we never had to do this again...but we do and we will...in 6 more months. This is just another reminder that no matter how well things are going, how healthy she is feeling, how far we have put the past behind us, we will never be free of this diagnosis...ever. 

Thank you for your continued prayers,

Debbie




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Comments

9 Comments

Jo Ann Bauer
By Jo Ann Bauer
Praising God for such great news! What a blessed relief this great report had to be! Can't begin to imagine your agony while waiting. The Shulls are always in my prayers! Go Gabi, Go Gabi, Go Gabi..... Love to all, Caroline's MiMi
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Tina Keith
By Tina Keith
So thankful for the good results! I am so sorry you all had to go thru that. I can't even begin to imagine what it's like. I hope knowing so many are praying for all of you helps at least a little!
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Sherry Long
By
So thankful for this great ending. I cannot imagine the stress you endured. God bless you all!
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Kathleen Ware
By Kathy Ware
Good morning, Shulls. And thank you for this update. What a week you have had. It was wonderful to read that Gabi's love of dancing has actually helped enhance her recovery. Hopefully all of you can do something special this weekend to celebrate the good news. Please know your many friends continue to be with you. God bless.
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Linda Amick
By Linda Amick
So sorry you had to go through all that stress, but so very, very happy things worked out so well! This sweet young lady has so much to look forward to. Praying for all of you every day. God bless you!
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Sarah Gouzoules
By Sarah Gouzoules
I'm so glad everything turned out o.k. Sarah C.O.L.E'S Prayer Team www.colesfoundation.org
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Janet Inman
By Janet Inman
Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow! Thanks for sharing!

COLE'S Prayer Team
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Jen Jackson
By Jen Jackson
Praise God for the wonderful news!
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Sharon Franklin
By Sharon Franklin
Praise God! So happy to hear the great news!
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