3 Months Old at Diagnosis
Delaney was born prematurely, so when she was 3 months old and her stomach looked abnormally large, her mom Kaitlin thought she was finally gaining weight. Kaitlin dropped Delaney off at her mother’s before heading to work one morning, and commented about how large Delaney’s stomach looked. Her mother agreed, and suggested that they take her to the doctor as a precaution.
When Delaney’s grandmother brought her to the pediatrician later that day, an ultrasound was ordered as a precaution. During the ultrasound, Kaitlin was confident the results would be normal. The family was shocked when an oncologist came into the waiting room and told them that Delaney had cancer.
Delaney was immediately admitted to Hackensack University Medical Center for stage IV high-risk neuroblastoma. The very next day, she underwent surgery during which doctors found cancer on Delaney’s adrenal gland, liver, and lungs.
Kaitlin remembers being overwhelmed during the first week after diagnosis. “I was walking around in a daze. The nurses and doctors would tell me what to expect, and I didn’t absorb any of it,” explains Kaitlin. “I remember wondering how everyone could be so cheerful with all of these sick children around.”
Treatment was hard for Delaney. She had to be admitted for every round of treatment. All of her “firsts” were spent in the hospital – first birthday, first Christmas, and first Easter – were all spent under the watchful eyes of doctors. She underwent 6 round of chemotherapy, radiation, two stem cell transplants as part of a clinical trial, and antibody therapy.
During every hospital stay, Kaitlin saw the CureSearch logo around the oncology unit and on paperwork. She visited the website for information on procedures, and relied on the resources there to learn what to expect as Delaney underwent treatment and dealt with late effects. Kaitlin found the CureSearch Walk while on the website, and decided that she wanted to raise awareness and funds for research to help other children diagnosed with cancer. She is now on the Walk committee for the New Jersey CureSearch Walk and has made lifelong friends through the event.
While Delaney was declared cancer free after 18 months of treatment, her journey with cancer hasn’t ended. She suffers from several late effects such as digestion issues which require a feeding tube, hearing loss, and consistent pain. She isn’t able to attend preschool with other children her age because she has been unable to receive immunizations.
Despite all of this, Delaney is a cheerful 3-year-old who loves to dance and talk. She and her family are determined to help fund research to find better treatments for children like Delaney.