My name is Elisma, and my daughter Kiana is 12 months old. We are from George and arrived at CHOC on December 23, 2022. Kiana is a stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer patient.

Kiana’s journey began on December 20, 2022. She was a very active little girl, but on December 16th, she suddenly stopped walking and couldn’t pull herself up. She had been unusually fussy the week before and refused to sleep alone. Concerned, we took her to the hospital on December 20th. Initially, she was diagnosed with arthritis, but when the doctor noticed something unusual in her ultrasound, he ordered more tests. An MRI revealed a large tumour growing in her lower back, pressing against her spinal cord. The doctors quickly arranged for us to be flown to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Upon arrival, Kiana was re-examined, and on December 24th, doctors formally diagnosed her with cancer, though they couldn’t specify the type. This uncertainty added to my anxiety. On December 26th, we received the devastating news: Kiana was in stage 4 neuroblastoma. I was shattered. I associated stage 4 cancer with untreatable conditions and felt as if someone had declared my baby already lost. The doctor explained that there was little they could do beyond hoping for her recovery. I felt numb and desperate, but looking into Kiana’s trusting eyes, I knew I had to stay strong for her.

Kiana began the first of seven chemotherapy sessions on December 27th. The MRI at Red Cross also showed that the tumour was affecting her nerves, which explained her difficulty in walking. Miraculously, after her first chemotherapy session, Kiana began pulling herself up against the cot railings. She was evaluated by several doctors over the next week, and their expressions told me they doubted she would walk again. We became outpatients on January 3rd and were introduced to the CHOC Foundation, which we gratefully accepted. Initially, I was terrified to leave the hospital, fearing for Kiana’s safety without immediate medical help. However, the CHOC House staff was incredibly supportive, and within weeks, Kiana was walking on her own again. I thank God for His mercy.

In April, another MRI showed slight tumour shrinkage, but not as much as the doctors had hoped. The cancer had spread to other parts of her body. Prof Davids explained that if the tumour shrank further, surgery would be necessary. An operation was scheduled for April 19, 2023, but further MRI studies deemed it too risky, dashing our hopes once more.

Desperate, I begged the doctors to let us go home. They allowed us to leave for three weeks, during which I urged everyone to pray for Kiana. We returned to Red Cross Hospital on May 10th for the sixth round of chemotherapy. Despite the prognosis remaining unchanged, Kiana was happy, running around, playing, and being a baby. She never seemed ill, aside from losing her hair.

On June 1st, another MRI revealed significant improvement. As a result, Kiana was cleared to begin radiation treatment on July 31, 2023. She is currently in week three of treatment and doing extremely well.

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