Pediatric Thyroid Cancer: Lexi's Story - Boys Town National Research Hospital
She is just a ball of joy. Goofy and fun, corny as can be, she is super creative, always super artistic. She's just a marvelous kiddo and I couldn't be more proud of who she has grown into as a person over the small course of 10 years.
She looked at me and said 'hey mom,' and just the way she turned her neck I could see the bumps on her neck but she didn't have any symptoms. So I made a call the next day to her PCP to see if we could get her in for an appointment.
Literally, they called me and said you're gonna meet with a surgeon tomorrow at this time and I had no understanding of why and they were just like 'we're just being safe they're gonna go over the ultrasound with you.'
He said this looks like cancer to me and gave us an indication that we were probably looking at lymphoma or there's a chance it's thyroid cancer but really we wouldn't know until pathology reports came back. When I heard cancer I thought we're going to lose our daughter to cancer. And this has been my little buddy. I remember, I have this little girl walking up to me, 'Dad, we're going to be best friends till the end,' and I can hear that end and I think to myself, how in the world? Obviously any family or parent does not want to hear that. Even with Lexi herself, I know she got really sad but that's when I offer that reassurance at the same time that hey, this is something we're going to figure out, we're going to take it step by step and even if this is cancer we're going to cure you of that cancer. He broke things down for us as as best as you can in these situations and even more importantly, he broke things down for Lexi.
Because of our multidisciplinary thyroid clinic, I was able to use the resources of my partner, Dr. Militsakh, and him being also a Head and Neck Cancer Specialist, the two of us doing this operation together, we were able to remove the thyroid gland and somewhere around 80 lymph nodes were removed from her entire neck. We did not have to go through chemotherapy but I never really realized how difficult the radiation process would be. We had to close half of our house off for her to be in while we stood at the gate. We had to deliver food to her but we couldn't come near, we had to deliver water to her but we couldn't come near her. She would, she got so sick of radiation that she'd be throwing up, and you know my daughter had gotten sick before, and but we couldn't even help her. You felt helpless.
They officially deemed her a cancer survivor. Cancer victory dance! I never like thought I was like this crazily strong but now that I've done something that's very crazily strong I'm like, I can do this, like I can do a lot of things I put my mind up to. I want people to know how happy I am. When we were actually in the hospital, before she had surgery, Alexis had mentioned that she wants to be there for others and she wants to let them know that they can do it too. I said well do you want to like just go talk to the people going through it, do you want to go see kids, maybe like in a chemotherapy setting, like what exactly are you looking for? She said whatever I can do just to be there and let them know that they can do it. I feel like anyone with this disease shouldn't have to be very scared because there's a lot of good doctors like the one who helped me. When she was diagnosed with cancer, yes we left and we were so scared, but we left knowing that we were in the best hands just because of the way he holds himself, in his demeanor, he talks to you like a person, you feel like you've known him forever. People come from all over to have surgeries done by him and here he is, five minutes up the street from our house. It was almost like having an older brother or father-in-law that I just needed to tell me things were going to be okay and he was super positive and he made her feel like a kid. In all that time meeting with the family it was 100 percent trust and it all has to go back to that very first meeting that I had with them, being super honest, telling them up front what we're going to be dealing with and letting them know that I'm also a parent, I feel that pain. I'm going to be sad when they're sad, I'm going to be happy when they're happy. Her prognosis is excellent so we're going to continue to follow her many, many years down the road. The thing that I want to say to Dr. Abdessalam is, you saved my daughter's life. He is a gift from God and I am so thankful for him and I also want to thank Boys Town. Everyone has been so kind and so respectful and so sensitive to what's going on. You don't know how valuable a prayer is until you truly need them and I feel like we were finally heard, and i'm just so thankful. Best friends and cuddle bugs to the end now.