NOTE: This story was written by Jayne, Harlie’s mother.
Harlie is one of my three beautiful daughters. We are your typical busy family that, for the most part, has been pretty healthy. Doctor visits, for all of us, have been few and far between.
November 12, 2013, is a day that will be forever etched into our minds. Arriving at the ER at 6:00 a.m., I was determined to find the answers to the abdominal pain that my 7-year-old daughter Harlie was experiencing.
This was the third doctor visit in 11 days. Other off and on symptoms that were mixed into the equation were fever, cough, runny nose, constipation, diarrhea and throwing up. The only constant symptom was abdominal/pelvic pain, which seemed to get worse with increased activity. I was so sure this was a case of appendicitis. After the initial examination and a normal urine and white blood cell count, the doctor ordered an x-ray and CT scan.
At 10:00 a.m., the x-ray and CT scan were performed and I was promised they would be read right away.
At 10:45, the doctor entered the room with the results. It was not appendicitis, which I already determined it had to be. He went on to tell me that they found a very large mass. The mass was so large that it covered most of the pelvic cavity. I was stunned and numb; I was in a state of shock. From that point, I heard about every fourth or fifth word. Two words I did hear were ovary and Fargo.
Tears began to fall, I kept thinking to myself, this is much too young, it can’t be. Then, I heard, “Mommy why are you crying?” My daughter, sick and in pain, was lying on the examination bed. I then had to explain to her that she has a large bump in her belly and we needed to figure what it was and how to get rid of it. The closest pediatric oncologist was in Fargo, which is three and a half hours away. We were told to go home, pack and go immediately to Fargo as they
were waiting for us.
On November 13, 2013, a biopsy was done. We were told that our 7-year-old daughter, Harlie, had germ cell ovarian cancer and it had spread to some lymph nodes.
Nothing in life prepares you for that moment when a doctor tells you that your child has cancer. Our family is not immune to cancer, as both my husband’s father and my father have battled cancer. And heck, if the doctor would have told me it was me that had cancer, I could understand. But why a 7-year-old? Life is just not fair.
On November 14th, 2013, our daughter had surgery to remove the tumor and her left ovary. They also installed a port into her shoulder so she could receive chemotherapy. The surgery removed about 90% of the cancer. In the subsequent months, she had three chemo treatments. A second surgery was performed in February 2014 to remove some residual spots that were questionable. The spots were biopsied and on February 20, 2014 we were told our daughter, Harlie, was cancer free!
Since her diagnosis, we’ve been involved with MOCA and have taken part in health fairs in our area and HOM Teal Strides for Ovarian Cancer, which was an amazing way to connect with other survivors.
We are so focused on spreading awareness about ovarian cancer. Although ovarian cancer is rare at age 7, it doesn’t matter if you are 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50: the symptoms are the same. Everyone should know them.
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