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“#TheParkersForever” - Parker Family Motto

Deep down in her heart, Bailee’s mom, Candice, knew that something was not right with her little girl. In June 2020, she noticed a large lump on Bailee’s neck. Candice made an appointment to take Bailee to her pediatrician. At the time, her pediatrician recommended a tele-visit in which the doctor suggested that Bailee had swollen lymph nodes. They were advised to continue monitoring the situation to ensure they did not get worse. Bailee was not running a fever and did not have any other symptoms. After about a week, Candice noticed the lump in Bailee’s neck was getting even bigger so she scheduled another appointment with the pediatrician. This time, the doctor told Candice that Bailee most likely had an infection and gave her a ten day round of antibiotics. Despite administering the prescribed antibiotics, Candice realized that the lump in Bailee’s neck was not shrinking at all. Candice received a referral to take Bailee to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, where a series of diagnostic tests were done, including an ultrasound. Candice was under the impression that this appointment was simply going to be a consultation and ultrasound, but did not expect anything urgent to occur. After the ultrasound and some questions from the doctor, Bailee was immediately taken for a CT Scan based on the abnormal results of the ultrasound. They were allowed to leave the hospital after the CT Scan, but were only gone for about 20 minutes when the doctors called and told Candice to bring Bailee back immediately and that she needed to be admitted. This process was a whirlwind for Candice. Bailee was immediately taken in for surgery to attempt to biopsy the lump on her neck. The surgeons realized that the mass was pushing against Bailee’s windpipe and causing her to have difficulty breathing. On August 7th, 2020, Bailee was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at 21 months old. She immediately underwent surgery and had a port placed to begin her chemotherapy cycles. Bailee is still in active treatment today and she is admitted to the hospital for a minimum of three days at a time, every 21 days for her chemotherapy regimen. Her chemotherapy is scheduled to go through January 2021. Her medical team is hopeful that her neuroblastoma is low risk and that she will not have to go through another surgery or radiation, at this time.

Cancer has affected Bailee and her family in many ways. Her mom was excited to return to her job as a substitute teacher after the summer months. However, once Bailee was diagnosed, she realized that this was not going to be possible. For little Bailee, cancer has affected her ability to go out in public frequently. She is also often separated from her siblings for long periods of time during her cancer treatment. Bailee has also lost all of her hair due to the side effects of her chemotherapy. Bailee loves Frozen, Moana, Paw Patrol, and Cocomelon. She likes to help the nurses at the hospital. Her mom feels like Bailee will want to follow in their footsteps one day and become a nurse herself. However, even with everything that Bailee has been through, her mom is proud of her strength and bravery. Bailee often keeps a smile on her face, even through the harshness of chemotherapy and scans. Her family’s pediatric cancer journey has strengthened their family bond and brought them closer together.

Most people have never heard of neuroblastoma, but it's actually the most common type of cancer in infants. A solid tumor is a lump or mass caused by uncontrolled or abnormal cell growth and is formed by special nerve cells called neuroblasts. Normally, these immature cells grow into functioning nerve cells. However, in neuroblastoma, they become cancer cells instead. Neuroblastoma is sometimes formed before a child is born and it usually is not found until after birth when the tumor begins to grow and affect the body. When neuroblastoma is found and treated in infancy, the chance of recovery is good. Children diagnosed with neuroblastoma are usually younger than five years old and most new cases happen in children younger than two. Approximately 700 new cases of neuroblastoma are diagnosed each year in the United States. Patients can develop late effects after their cancer treatments have ended. Late effects of neuroblastoma include growth and developmental delays, loss of function in involved organs, as well as hearing loss. The risk of developing late effects depends on things like the specific treatments used and the child's age during treatment. Although rare, some kids with neuroblastoma develop opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome, which is a condition where the immune system attacks normal nerve tissue. As a result, some kids might have learning disabilities, delays in muscle and movement development, as well as language or behavioral challenges. Children treated for neuroblastoma also may be at higher risk for other cancers.

A pediatric cancer diagnosis is life altering and for other parents out there struggling with a new diagnosis, Candice suggests that “your child is stronger than you think they are. Never let them see you down. Let them enjoy themselves as much as they want, but protect them at the same time. Remind your child that you are always there for them.” Candice also wants to share with current and potential donors that it means the world to a family battling pediatric cancer to not have to worry about a rent payment or groceries, for even one month during their child’s treatment. Runway to Hope was honored to help alleviate some of the financial burden for Bailee’s family by granting rent and utility emergency assistance. By becoming a monthly donor with Runway to Hope, you are helping us guarantee assistance for families like Bailee’s, each month. Without our biggest fundraising source, our Spring Soiree, we rely completely on donors to allow us to continue to provide assistance to the families that we serve. Becoming a monthly donor is easy! Simply click the “Donate” Button at the top of the page and select the amount that you can commit to every month. Even $5.00 allows us to buy gas to help a family get their child to the hospital for treatment.

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