There’s nothing more heart breaking than seeing a child lying on a hospital bed equipped with oxygen and other apparatuses. Angela Kristel, my 4-year-old niece was hospitalized last June 19, 2019 due to UTI (Urinary Tracy Infection) and swelling of her left eye. On her 4 days in the hospital, her UTI was cured and tests are done to identify the cause of the swelling and crystal-like reflection on her left eye. When the result came out, she was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma and the doctor suggested that her left eye be enucleated.
Retinoblastoma is a rare form of cancer that rapidly develops from the immature cells of a retina, the light-detecting tissue of the eye. It is the most common primary malignant intraocular cancer in children, and it is almost exclusively found in young children.
Though most children survive this cancer, they may lose their vision in the affected eye(s) or need to have the eye removed.
We were shocked and can’t accept the first diagnosis and recommendation so we went to get a second opinion. Last July 2019, the second Ophthalmologist that we consulted diagnosed her of Retinoblastoma presenting as leukocoria (abnormal white reflection from the retina of the eye). The specialist also suggests that her left eye be removed to prevent the spread of cancer cells to her brain.
By August 2019, the surgery was done at PGH (Philippine General Hospital) through the efforts our families, relatives and friends who collected the needed amount for her surgery. The enucleation (left eye removed) was a success and results of her MRI test shows that the cancer cells did not reach her brain but some traces are found on her optic nerve. Now she will have to undergo 4 high dose sessions of Chemotherapy treatment to kill the remaining cancer cells and prevent them from growing.
September 2019, Blood tests, MRI, B-scan, and Bone Marrow Aspiration was done followed by her first high dose chemotherapy. After 3 to 5 days of confinement for chemotherapy, she will be discharged then injectable and oral medicines are prescribed. Follow up check-ups once a week with blood tests to monitor her platelets and another shot of chemo drug. Then after 2 weeks from her last chemo, she will be back for the next session. There was never a week that she did not visit the hospital. There are times that we cannot proceed with her chemo session because her platelets were too low and she needed to have blood transfusion. Sometimes on her follow-up check-up, her doctor would suggest for confinement so she can have immediate blood transfusion. She managed to finish her chemotherapy last December 2019. During those 4 long months, Angela bravely fought her fear of countless needles being inserted on her hands, arms, and feet and the side effects of chemotherapy.
After Chemotherapy, she needed to undergo a 30-day Radiation therapy then another CT scan to check if the cancer cells have died. Supposedly, she has to start last January 2020 but her weak body has developed pneumonia. She cannot be put to sleep(anesthesia) during the radiation therapy if she is not feeling well. Her Radiation therapy started last February and ended last May 11. During those months, she had asthma and pneumonia or we don’t have enough funds so there are days or week that we cannot continue with the therapy, then there comes the lockdown due to covid-19.
June 11, Angela was rushed to the hospital due to headache, stomachache and vomiting. Her X-ray showed that there’s fecal retention on her colon or she’s only constipated then she was admitted and given medicines and suppository. Her doctor said that she only needs to release everything that was stocked on her colon then she can be discharged the next day. But then many days have come and she’s still constipated and started to again feel headache and vomiting. The doctor said that the headache might be because of Intracranial Pressure and a CT Scan is needed to confirm its cause. June 18, the CT scan result was released and it states that a 4cm mass was seen on her right cerebellar hemisphere. A 4cm tumor was developed on the right side of her brain and it causes the Intracranial pressure.
Intracranial pressure (ICP) is the pressure exerted by fluids such as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) inside the skull and on the brain tissue. This can be caused by a mass (such as a tumor), bleeding into the brain or fluid around the brain, or swelling within the brain itself. An increase in intracranial pressure is a serious and life-threatening medical problem.
On that same day, she had her first seizure and an oxygen was attached to help her breathe. A feeding tube was also attached to her nose, for the milk and medicines. Her doctors said that the cancer cells have spread and caused the tumor to grow. It is not safe to remove the tumor since it has grown at 4 cm, and they only gave us two options: Have an operation to put a tube/VP Shunt on her brain. (A ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt is a medical device that relieves pressure on the brain caused by fluid accumulation.); or take her home and have a palliative care (Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. This type of care is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness - whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.)
June 23, Angela had a serious seizure and was intubated to help her breathe. Her doctors also suggested to move her to ICU but since there’s a covid-19 patient in ICU, they opt to have the necessary equipment/apparatuses set up on her room and have a designated private nurse beside her 24hours.
Since the start of her battle with cancer last year, our family has exhausted everything for her medical needs and expenses. We are very thankful to everyone who are continuously supporting us through prayers and financially.
Again, we would like to ask everyone to help us raise funds to support Angela Kristel’s treatment. Her hospital bill has already reached to Php 100,000 itself without doctors’ professional fee. It’s hard for us that our salaries, benefits and small business is not enough to cover everything. We are thanking everyone in advance for the monetary help that will be given. Please continue praying for Angela. May the Heavens bless you all and your families for a lifetime.
For those who does not have a Paypal account, you can also send your donations through the following bank accounts. Below are the bank details:
BANK: Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)
Account Name: APRILYN V MARCIAL
Account number: 1289-4203-43
Bank Address: Nueno Ave., Imus, Cavite 4103
Type of account: SAVINGS
Account Name: APRILYN V MARCIAL