Ila Jean “Bean” is our youngest child. She is adored by her brother Howie and her sister Monica. She was only 18 months old when we got the devastating news that she had a mass in her abdomen. On August 29, 2006, Ila was diagnosed with Stage IV Neuroblastoma. Before we knew it she was in surgery, had a central line and was hooked up to her first round of chemotherapy. I knew in my heart she would make it, but the road would prove to be long and hard.
She went through seventeen months of treatment before finally showing no evidence of disease. Ila wasn't your typical child. She had her own path that always surprised the doctors. Ila Jean went through a total of twenty three rounds of chemotherapy and six rounds of antibodies along with radiation. Her treatments ended in May of 2010 with her last round of 3f8 antibodies. She was finally finished. Cancer free. A survivor.
In late January 2011, she had reached three years cancer free. We were elated. Life was beginning to feel normal. She was excelling in Kindergarten and was doing great. She loved swimming and had become a little fish in the water. This spring she surprised us by taking off on her two-wheeler without training wheels and quickly became a little speed demon. Ila was full of life as always - quite the busy body and a little stinker at heart.
On May 5, 2011, Ila went for her regularly scheduled scan, and as I watched the MIBG scan, I saw it. Ila had a new tumor.
After 3 years of being cancer free, it had returned. Fortunately it was a localized tumor in her abdomen and bone marrows were negative. Ila had surgery at Sloan Kettering by the wonderful Dr. Laquaglia to remove the tumor and as it turned out, the tumor proved to be a very aggressive one.
We were lucky to find it when we did. Ila has since had her first round of chemotherpy here and is recovering. She will be in treatment for months to come now. Our lives once again have been turned upside down. As a family, we will stay united. This time the kids are older and understand more. Our challenges will be different, but our goal remains the same. Her life is what we will live for each and every day.