As an infant, Lindsey Grubbs did what most babies do. She played, she napped, she cried, but she was dealing with something far from normal.
“I was a baby, so of course I didn’t fully know what was happening with my health,” she said. “My mom has even told me that I would pretend to give syringes of medicine to my baby doll while I was going through my own treatments. I knew I felt sick, but for me it was normal.”
At 12 months old, Lindsey was diagnosed with stage 4 hepatoblastoma, a type of childhood liver cancer.
With a tumor the size of a grapefruit, five lung metastases (cancerous tumors that start somewhere else in the body and spread), and less-than-encouraging survival rates, the prognosis was bleak. But Lindsey’s doctors refused to make her a statistic – instead fighting to make her a survivor.
One Little Miracle at a Time
“I cannot describe how it felt the moment everything came crashing around us,” said Quaker Grubbs, Lindsey’s mom. “The horror that unfolded in our lives upon hearing her diagnosis still brings me to tears, and it’s something I will never get over.”
The numbers were daunting. Without treatment, Lindsey would only survive three months. With treatment, she’d have a 50% chance of survival, but a 75% chance of the cancer returning.
And then there were the side effects. Most childhood cancer survivors will suffer chronic health conditions due to the toxic treatments used to save their lives. Unfortunately, this was also a possibility for Lindsey.
“I’ve seen how the lack of research in cancer treatments can impact children. We are essentially given watered down versions of adult chemotherapy, and our doctors just hope for the best and do all they can,” said Lindsey.
Her possible treatment side effects included chemo diaper burns, heart damage, kidney damage, hearing loss, deep tendon reflex loss, and puberty and infertility issues.
“The potential side effects were so daunting, that I said: so even if she does survive, my beautiful baby will be deaf, have organ issues and need a walker for the rest of her life,” said Quaker. “And so, we prayed for hope. One little miracle at a time was what we asked for.”
More Than Just Another Statistic
Although the numbers weren’t in her favor, Lindsey’s doctors continued to do everything they could to give her the best chance at living a long, healthy life.
“Her oncologists said something that changed my mindset. They said Lindsey was not a statistic, and they would not treat her as one,” Quaker explained. “Her story would be hers to tell, and every day of her life would be another page in that story.”
And they were right. Lindsey’s tumor shrank and was able to be removed surgically. Her lung metastases also went away and 17 years later, she has no lasting side effects.
Lindsey is now 18 years old and will join other childhood cancer survivors and advocates on the trail for the CureSearch Foothills Spring Ultimate Hike on April 22. She and her mom formed the “Little Miracles” hiking team and will trek 28.3 miles to tell children’s cancer to take a hike.
“I want to challenge people to contribute their time, money, and efforts into helping fund the incredible research supported by CureSearch,” said Lindsey. “I also hope that as we bring awareness to rare cancers, we can make ‘Little Miracles’ happen every day.”
“Each step that we take on the trail will represent a child being prayed for as teams of scientists, researchers and doctors continue to look for better treatments for kids that never deserved to fight this horrible battle,” said Quaker. “This is why we hike.”
About CureSearch Ultimate Hike: Ultimate Hike is the only national hiking endurance event dedicated to childhood cancer. Hikers from across the country trek 20-30 miles in a single day, all to raise funds for next-generation research and to honor loved ones who have been affected. Since its inception, the Ultimate Hike program has raised more than $9 million to support CureSearch’s mission to end childhood cancer, and put research on a fast-track to becoming new therapies. If you’re interested in participating in an Ultimate Hike or creating a hiking adventure in your own community, visit http://ultimatehike.org/.