Information provided by CureChildhoodCancer.org
Nina is a kind hearted, beautiful, and creative girl who was born 14 years ago with the brightest red hair on a newborn her parents had ever seen. She fell in love with life from her very first moment. Always smiling, laughing, loving people, and everything around her. Her life from birth through Kindergarten was completely normal – birthday parties, play dates with friends, dance lessons, and holidays spent with her parents and grandparents.
When Nina was in Kindergarten, shortly after turning six, she scratched her leg in a swimming pool accident, while taking a swimming lesson. The “innocent” scratch turned into a most dangerous, painful, and life-threatening type of skin infection – “necrotizing fasciitis”. Nina fought for her life in the Intensive Care Unit for several days and then continued her recovery in a hospital for over three long months. She underwent numerous treatments on her leg, including skin grafts and over 40 hyperbaric chamber treatments. She wasn’t able to walk for a total of eight months. After Nina’s life was out of danger, her parents found out that Nina had only about a 25% chance to survive, and only about a15% chance to keep her leg.
However, Nina survived, and she didn’t lose her leg. Nina’s parents will never stop thanking the doctors who fought very hard for Nina and not only saved her life, but her leg, as well. Nina learned to walk and dance again. She never lost her warm, personality and the light inside her heart. She started first grade with a big smile, and was the happy, joyful girl she had always been.
However, just before beginning the third grade, Nina’s mother noticed a swollen lymph node on the left side of her neck. Her pediatrician said the swelling was possibly caused by an infected baby tooth – or maybe an infected lymph node that sometimes take time to clear up – perhaps up to a year, before returning to normal. After five months of frequent check-ups with pediatricians, many blood tests, and trying different antibiotics, the lymph node continued to become even larger. The ENT doctor, to whom she was referred, became suspicious that something more serious than an infection was causing the enlarged lymph node. He suggested performing a biopsy. The result was terrifying – Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (HL).
Needless to say, the news was devastating to Nina’s parents, and they were extremely shocked, scared, and worried. The world of cancer is cruel, miserable, and no child should have to experience it. However, the oncologists were positive in their outlook, since Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is one of the most curable forms of cancer. Treatment began with chemotherapy. The chemotherapy had terrible side effects – loss of her beautiful hair, pain, infections, sores in her mouth, and high fevers, that put her in the hospital for a number of days, and sometimes weeks, after each treatment. But, after four painful cycles of “chemo”, Nina’s scans showed that she was in remission.
Unfortunately, within a three-month time span, another enlarged lymph node appeared, behind her left ear this time. The results of a needle biopsy showed that Nina had relapsed with HL, again. For another seven months Nina had chemo treatments, and after eight chemo cycles she was again in remission. Life began to return to normal, with only MRI tests every three months, for follow-up purposes. Nina returned to school and enjoyed her everyday life. She studied hard and always remained an excellent student.
The remission continued for 24 months with “normal” MRI results and no indication of any cancer recurrence. Then, she had her two-year exam, and her doctor expected she would soon enter in the “Survivors’ Program.” Nina has yet to make it into the Survivor’s Program, because she relapsed in August, 2015 and most recently, for the third time, in February 2017, and has resumed chemo treatments.
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, it’s the most horrible news that any parent can imagine. When a child relapses with cancer after going through all of the misery and pain of toxic chemo treatments, it is too much of a horror to put into words. Because of Nina’s extraordinary skin sensitivity, and the risk of serious infection, even from “routine” chemo treatments, it is making it much harder for the doctors to treat her.
Treatments like radiation and bone marrow transplants, which doctors would normally advise after lymphoma relapses, could put Nina at extremely dangerous risk, because of her history of a life-threatening infections. Despite recent immune therapy treatments in Texas, Nina’s lymphoma is still present and she recently began another type of treatment that was approved for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last year.
With all Nina has gone through, she has never lost her friendly, warm, personality, hope, and her love of life. She is a miracle girl and knows that God is with her. She has a great spirit and has inspired many people who know her. Many times, Nina survived things that were hard to survive and she continues fighting for her life. Once again, she never complains, and remains a positive, strong, and kind girl, a great student, who loves dancing, art, and follows her dream to someday become an author.
She believes, that cancer is the evilest disease in the world and that it will be conquered for every child, and every adult one day.
Please pray for Nina to be cured, and please do your part to help to find a safe cure for every child and every person on the planet.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Each day, we share the stories of a special children whose lives has been impacted by cancer. Stories of survival. Stories of loss. Stories of hope. Click here to read more stories and learn how to make a donation.