Chemotherapy is pretty nasty, but has yet to take down what 13-year-old Gabby’s mom calls her “Gabbitude.”
Gabby is feisty and always tells it like it is, so her mom, Kristi, worried when she started complaining about pain in her right knee last October…
Kristi thought it was just growing pains but after a few weeks Gabby had a noticeable limp. Kristi took her to the doctor for an x-ray, expecting nothing serious. The next morning, which was Halloween, Kristi got a terrifying phone call.
“The doctor told me she was calling in regards to Gabby’s x-rays,” Kristi said. “She said, ‘they are not good, it’s very bad.’ They could see a mass and said it appears to be cancer.”
Things moved fast after that life-changing phone call…Kristi and Gabby rushed to the hospital for more tests that afternoon.
A week later, she was officially diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer.
Since then, Gabby has endured multiple rounds of chemotherapy that made her so sick she couldn’t eat for days. The tumor in her leg caused her extreme pain that couldn’t be managed with medication. In December, Gabby had major surgery to remove the aggressive tumor and the bones in her knee and femur. Doctors reconstructed the bones with metal – Gabby’s mom calls it her “bionic leg.”
Recovery from the surgery and every round of chemotherapy that has followed has been extremely tough. She’s spent more time in the hospital than at home, and Kristi counts it as a huge victory if Gabby feels well enough to eat a few chicken nuggets or a Chips Ahoy cookie.
When Gabby was first diagnosed, the prospect of losing her hair and many of the other scary things that come with cancer barely phased her. What hurt her most was knowing she wouldn’t be able to go to school, have sleepovers with friends, or do any of the normal things a 13-year-old should be doing.
“I have to listen to her cry when she realizes she missed her class Christmas party and listen as she lists every other thing she is missing out on and not going to get to do,” Kristi said. “She should be going to school, hanging out with friends, arguing with her siblings and living a normal life - not fighting to live, period.”
Gabby’s latest scans in January showed no signs of cancer in her body! She’ll continue getting regular scans to make sure the disease hasn’t returned. In the meantime, she’s working hard in physical therapy to get more comfortable with her reconstructed leg, and she hopes to get back to high school for sophomore year.
Gabby’s time in treatment has shown her and Kristi just how big the problem of childhood cancer is. Her chemo sessions are sometimes pushed back because of the disheartening fact that every room on the pediatric oncology floor is full. Kristi said this is one of the many reasons they have decided to share Gabby’s story.
“If Gabby’s journey can shed light on this issue and bring awareness to others, we will share her story again and again and use it for whatever good it may bring.”