“My 3-year-old beat lymphoma”

When a big tumour invaded her body, this brave little girl fought it valiantly, backed by a solid support system…

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“When Maeve was 3 years old, we had her little sister Paige and I thought life couldn’t get any sweeter. However, four months later, Maeve started complaining about tummy aches and feeling constipated. We thought it was normal toddler health issues, since they tend to eat badly.

When the complaints got frequent, we took Maeve to the doctor, who felt a lump in her tummy. The doctor also thought it was a bad case of constipation and advised us to give her more fibre-rich vegetables.

We tried to improve Maeve’s diet for about a month, but it got so bad that she refused to eat and even avoided favourite foods like chocolate. That got me worried. Things got worse when she started throwing up.

One night, she was sitting on her potty, crying and screaming in pain, so we called her paediatrician for advice. When the doctor heard her cries in the background, he said it didn’t sound normal and told us to bring her to a specialist at once.

With the help of some doctor friends, we secured an appointment with a stomach specialist at the National University Hospital. We thought Maeve would get stronger meds and everything would be fine. I still remember telling my daughter that morning, as we were building a space ship out of big diaper boxes, that we’d come home and finish our project. Little did I know that we won’t be back for months.

“The doctors…needed her awake to feel the pain... They needed her screaming in order to treat her condition.”

During her specialist’s appointment, ultrasounds and X-rays were done. Doctors found out that both her intestines had fused together, resembling an accordion. This condition is known as ‘telescoping’.

Telescoping can happen for a variety of reasons, but at that point, the doctors didn’t suspect cancer yet. They would try doing an air enema ― pumping air through the anus ― to help separate the intestines. When we were told that it would be a painful procedure, we asked if Maeve could get some pain relief or be knocked out.

The doctors said no, unfortunately. They needed her awake to feel the pain, so that they could gauge her reaction to make sure they didn’t overdo it and end up bursting her intestines. They needed her screaming in order to treat her condition. Though I couldn’t handle hearing that, I knew we had to proceed.

The next day, they did the air enema three times but each time, it failed. Maeve was screaming her head off, so it was really hard to watch. Since this procedure wasn’t working, they proceeded to do emergency surgery ―they had to open her up and see what was going on.

Up until then, we hadn’t really explained much about the condition to Maeve, nor I ever spoken to her about surgery and what it entailed. My little girl was so confused and kept asking me what was going on and where they were taking her. I was at a loss for words and told her they were taking her somewhere to rest for a while. I was not allowed into the surgical room, which scared Maeve even more. But my brave daughter pulled through.

What did the doctors find during the surgery? Read on!