In June of 2006, we noticed that our 4 year old daughter Raelynn was having troubles with puffiness around her right eye. Thinking it may be an infection or something along that line, we took her to a local optometrist. Seeing something bigger, he referred us to a pediatric ophthalmologist. This ophthalmologist could tell right away that she was dealing with something much more concerning than we could imagine. The whirlwind continued as he sent us to get a CT scan where he was able to determine a “walking diagnosis” of a potential cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma. He referred us to Iowa City where she underwent a series of tests, exams, scans and you-name-its, including a biopsy. Unfortunately, the biopsy confirmed the original diagnosis of Rhabdomyosarcoma- a soft tissue cancer.
Raelynn began a six-month journey where she endured 24 rounds of chemo and 25 radiation therapy sessions.
During that time, Raelynn faced a few obstacles. Fevers, low counts, weakness and many other issues that cancer patients often have to face were taken head on, but the biggest was yet to come.
One of Raelynn’s “chemo cravings” was tacos. And when she wanted to eat, we didn’t care what it was. We just wanted her skinny little body to get something in it. So tacos it was. Little did we know that three of our visits to Taco John’s were in a window of time that the lettuce was found to have been tainted with E-Coli. Three of us at home were stricken with the infection, one being our immunosuppressed Raelynn. A week of isolation followed in Iowa City where they pumped her little body full of antibiotics to kill off the nasties. Thankfully the treatment worked, allowing her to bounce back quickly. Within a week, however, she began to spike another fever. We discovered that because of the imbalance of bacteria in her body, the good guys took over and caused a completely different infection called C.Diff. that proved to be potentially even more dangerous than the E. Coli.
Because of the tremendous care and expertise of the UIHC, Raelynn recovered from this as well, and so the treatments continued.
On December 15, 2006 we received news that the cancer was gone! Since then she has grown to be a healthy, strong and (mostly) happy teenager. We are continually thankful for the UIHC and Dance Marathon!