With the medical world evolving almost daily, new treatments and vaccines are developed at an unbelievable rate. But there’s a handful of medical cases that still baffle some doctors. The following story is one of those cases.
It explains what a family went through when both their children fell ill at around the same time. After taking the kids to numerous doctors appointments and performing various tests, they had nothing else to do but wait to find out the results. They hoped, that with time, the answers would reveal themselves…
Family From California
A family living in South Bay, Los Angeles, was looking forward to a long holiday weekend. But during Memorial Day weekend, one of the children felt sick. Kalea, 6, was complaining about headaches and one morning she threw it. But like most parents, Duncan assumed it was just a bug.
Heading To The ER
However, by Thursday, as Kalea’s symptoms worsened, the couple took their daughter to the emergency room. Then, the following day, the family visited their pediatrician and over the weekend, Kalea seemed to improve. But, by Monday, her condition had worsened again…
Ordering An MRI
That’s when the family went to see a neurologist who ordered an MRI. After performing an MRI, doctors discovered a tumor in the posterior fossa region of the brain, which is a small space in the skull near the brain stem and the cerebellum. The tumor measured 3.5 centimeters in diameter and was forming near the stem of Kalea’s brain.
Testing For Cancer
Shortly after, on June 11, 2018, surgeons removed the tumor and had it tested for cancer. It was then that they discovered Kalea had brain cancer and she would need chemotherapy and radiation. The family broke down and their immediate reaction was fear…
Everything Changed Overnight
It became too hard to even say the words out loud when they received that first diagnosis. Duncan Avery said, “We go from having a healthy baby girl who’s a skateboarder and a soccer player, who’s just loving life, to having a tumor removed from her brain.” After discovering the mass was cancerous, Kalea was diagnosed with medulloblastoma.
Medulloblastoma is a fast-growing cancer that forms at the base of the skull and can spread to the spinal cord and other parts of the body. Since medulloblastoma tumors grow in the area of the brain that controls complex motor and cognitive functions, patients may display trouble with movement and balance. The week that followed was especially difficult for Kalea…
Recovery And Treatment
It took her several days to regain her ability to speak and that first week after surgery was extremely uncomfortable. Doctors said that they were lucky to remove the tumor as it was wrapped around an artery, but she still will have trouble with speech and some motor functioning. The Averys were quick to start Kalea’s treatment, but their nightmare was far from over…
Noah Complaining Of Feeling Sick
Just as Kalea was starting to improve, Duncan and Nohea starting noticing issues with their 4-year-old son Noah. He began taking longer naps than usual, but they figured their son was depressed about his sister’s situation. That was, until, he started complaining of headaches in the area between his eyebrows…
Mimicking His Sister
This was the same spot his sister pointed to just weeks earlier, but still, Duncan figured that he was mimicking Kalea’s symptoms. “He’s mimicking his sister. He misses his sister. It’s just him dealing with all these emotions,” Duncan said. But when Noah was “oddly walking like a drunk person,” the family immediately brought him to an oncologist.
What Are The Odds?
An MRI was ordered for Noah and when the doctor came back with the results, the Averys were at a loss for words. Noah’s MRI had revealed the same aggressive tumor in the back of the brain. “We looked at each other and thought, there’s no way this is happening again,” said Duncan. “What are the odds?”
Bonding Through Tragedy
The scans on June 21 revealed that Noah had a mass in the same spot as his sister and doctors removed a 5-centimeter brain tumor four days later. “We broke down in tears,” Duncan, 36, explains. “How could two kids in 14 days have the same exact tumor? How does that happen?”
The Parents Never Imagined Their Children Would Battle Cancer Together
Nohea said that she went numb after Noah’s diagnosis. “We’re all of a sudden hit with this and we’re starting all over again with our second child. At that point, I was just like, ‘how are we going to get through this?’” There was a shock wave going through their bodies, but there was very little time to cry…
Their Brave Fight
The parents realized they had to fight. “You take one look at your baby’s face, then you get back up again,” said Nohea. Dr. Alan Wayne, director of the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, is treating the two children.
It’s Extremely Rare To Have Two Cancers In A Family
He said that they’ve both had surgery and are doing well post-operatively. “Next comes the beginning of chemotherapy and in some cases additional therapy beyond chemo,” Dr. Wayne said. But, being that is it extremely rare to have two cancers in a family raises the possibility of this being an inherited genetic predisposition…
Other experts agree that this case is genetic and is unlikely caused by something in the environment. Now, Dr. Wayne and his team are looking for the cause of the cancer by studying potential gene abnormalities. The family is expected to undergo genetic testing to search for a cause. But what are the chances that the cancer could come back for these kids?
Chances Of The Cancer Coming Back
“Most of the time with medulloblastoma, the children are cured,” Dr. Wayne said. Since the tumor affects the cerebellum, balance and coordination can also be affected. The siblings have been working with a team of oncologists and physical therapists and Duncan and Nohea are celebrating their children’s small victories…
How Are The Children Doing?
Kalea is currently undergoing physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Nohea explains that her daughter went down a slide for the first time since her surgery and it brought tears to her eyes. As far as Noah, he’s also responding well to the treatment. Although, there is much more ahead for the siblings.
What Does The Future Hold For The Kids?
The children will move on to radiation and possible chemotherapy and to help cover the costs, a friend of the family set up a GoFundMe page. The page, to help the family with their medical expenses, has raised more than $168,000 with a goal of $200,000. The family is sharing their story in hopes of raising awareness and encouraging new research…
The Most Common
Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children accounting for about 20 percent of childhood brain tumors. According to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, between 250 and 500 children are found with one each year.
A Silver Lining
The Averys are hopeful that there is a silver lining in all of this. They said it would be a blessing if their experience could help identify a genetic cause. “If our family was placed on this earth to help solve the answer of why this can happen, that would be amazing,” Duncan said.
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