CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - September 20th: She’s two years old. From Rowan County, in the town of Gold Hill. What you’re about to read isn’t pretty, but it’s real. I gratefully thank and respect her mother for saying it like it is and letting us learn from the truth of her daughter’s diagnosis.
“What happened to Merritt was a whirlwind, and it happened with a babysitter,” Kayla Plumber said. “The babysitter said she was acting perfectly fine all morning but when walking down a hallway, stopped and started screaming. She said she thought Merritt had diaper rash, so she immediately changed her… and found what appeared to be a grape-looking mass coming from her vagina.
She called me at work. I rushed home, we took her to her primary pediatrician, who referred us to a urologist, who then referred us to @Levine Children’s. We were immediately admitted. The next day there was an ultrasound, biopsy and CT scan. They discovered a mass was attached to her vaginal wall.”
The actual diagnosis was myosarcoma. Four surgeries, 32 weeks into chemo (with 19 left), and lots of radiation, that tumor is 99% removed.
Keep in mind this happy baby was 17-months-old when originally diagnosed. She just turned two last Sunday.
The treatments to get to this point were unique, being that the tumor location was unique. Some of the internal radiation to target the tumor were procedures usually used on adults. Her surgeries have gone really well… again, great margins showing 99% of the tumor was removed.
She has scans at the end of next month to hopefully continue to show the good news. “The hospital has blown my husband Aaron and me away from the get-go,” Kayla said. “Everyone was so personal and knew exactly what my daughter needed. She’d scream, but be calmer if they were around. She wouldn’t struggle as much. They’d remember what toys she liked. After everything is said and done… and we believe this will be said and done… we want to go back to the hospital to visit our nurses and doctors at @Levine Childrens because they were so great.”
Kayla said they also made great friends in the hospital with another one of our #MollysKids families currently going through pediatric cancer.
Remember Brinn Andrews? She was who we all met in the September 3rd post (here >> http://tinyurl.com/Sept32019MKs). “Merritt and Brinn have difference cancers, but similar experiences for us as parents,” Kayla said. “We’re a cancer community once you get started. You don’t realize how many kids are affected. Social media has been good for us because it branches far into the community and the posts can be shared and impact many people. People can talk back to you right away.”
That interaction, she said, is really important. “We’re fighting for our child’s life,” she said. “All the parents we meet in this position are. If we get a text at 6am that says, ‘Just sending a text. Love you and thinking of you.’ It makes the day 100-times better.” Hmmmm… anyone ever heard a version of that before?
“You can’t give up,” Kayla added later. “Some days you want to sit and cry your eyes out. But you can’t think you’re alone. That’s what being with other cancer parents in a hospital has taught us. Even if you don’t have a technical family, there’s a community for those of us going through this. I will talk with any random person who messages. I’ll talk to them day or night. And I’ll tell them this – a simple message, hug or prayer will go further than you think.”
Merritt – someday you’re going to grow up, re-read this and know you’ve got one strong mom. Must be where you get it. #MollysKids
**NOTE**: These 30 September #MollysKids stories highlight REAL kids in our community who battle. The stories are meant to be shared and educate about pediatric cancer, as they have every September since 2013. This year, I’m also encouraging you to comment below with a message. Not to me. Please don’t write me. Write the family. Say something – in this case – to Merritt her or her mom Kayla. Consider it like sending a handwritten card, only easier. They’ll read your words. Promise. As Kayla just said, your words will be her support. Cancer can feel like an island – let them know you are present. The Good, the Bad and the Always Real. Right? Every post. Every day. Thank you.
*Editor’s note: This is about one of #MollysKids, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. It was first published there, which is why it’s written in a personal way. For years Molly has followed hundreds of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story and updates on all #MollysKids here.