A message from Amy Mulford, Brooke’s mother.
My daughter Brooke was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer, Stage IV high-risk neuroblastoma, on January 5, 2009, when she was just four years old. Since that awful day she has endured all kinds of grueling cancer therapies, but we are fortunate that she was able to receive a combination immunotherapy treatment that included a drug called Ch14.18. It gave her a chance that children before her did not get.
It all started on Christmas Eve 2008, when Brooke started limping and complaining of pain in her leg. Her pediatrician diagnosed a sinus infection and infections in both her ears, and sent us to the local hospital for blood work and X-rays. Hospital doctors said that she had toxic synovitis as a result of the sinus and ear infections and that all she needed was antibiotics. A week later, I knew that was not the case when, after a three-hour car journey to family in New Jersey, she was unable to straighten her legs, in unbearable pain and running a fever. We went to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and it was there that she was diagnosed.
We were very lucky to have been at CHOP. Neuroblastoma is rare; fewer than 700 American children are diagnosed with the disease each year, but a significant number of these children are treated at CHOP. Doctors determined that Brooke’s cancer had started in her right adrenal gland and had spread through pretty much every bone in her body and approximately 80% of her bone marrow. I had seen the cancer light up throughout her body on her MIBG scan, and I thought there was no hope that she could survive. But, as a result of their experience with the disease, the doctors at CHOP were able to reassure us that there were treatments and that survival was a possibility.