Daniel J Vance

Difficult-to-write column

It was only three years ago when Lisa Adams of Grove City, Ohio, first learned her then four-year-old daughter Eden had neuroblastoma. A National Institutes of Health website defines it as ‘a malignant (cancerous) tumor that develops from nerve tissue’ and occurs in infants and children. According to Adams, only 600 American children are diagnosed each year.

‘We found out in July 2004 that Eden has neuroblastoma,’ said Adams in a telephone interview. ‘She could hardly walk and had excruciating hip pain. At first, they thought she had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or rheumatic fever.’

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In time, doctors discovered cancer in Eden’s bone marrow, and soon thereafter they detected a five-centimeter-square tumor behind her liver.

Said Adams, ‘Up front they did six rounds of chemotherapy, then a bone marrow transplant using her own stem cells, twelve rounds of radiation, and then she went on a (special) medication.’

No cure exists for neuroblastoma. Survival odds are less than thirty percent, said Adams, but after a relapse those odds drop to less than five percent. Eden has relapsed twice.

‘We are living day by day,’ said Adams. ‘You can’t look any further ahead than that and still be able to function. Eden has been lucky. Most children who relapse become immune to standard chemotherapy, but with Eden that hasn’t been the case.’

After having watched three friends die from neuroblastoma, and having been told she has it, Eden nonetheless hasn’t yet put two-and-two together. Such is the advantage of being only seven years old. Her mother and father have joint custody of her, and she has a thirteen-year-old brother.

Adams said, ‘It’s toughest watching the (chemotherapy and radiation) treatments and knowing that what they are doing to save her is actually poisoning her body.’

To help Eden get through emotionally, Adams and her ex-husband have been encouraging their daughter every way possible. Half the battle of beating any illness, Adams said, comes from believing the illness can be beaten.

Adams herself has been encouraged. Just recently, twenty volunteers organized a benefit yard sale to help cover some of Eden’s medical expenses. People from all over Ohio donated items.

‘All the family, friends, and strangers who are rallying around us is like nothing I have ever seen in my life,’ she said.

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