Recently, we went to Memorial Sloan Kettering for her MRI. This week we had to go back to Sloan again to see her oncologist for follow up. It makes me sick to my stomach that I even have to say “Oncologist” while speaking of my child! But like having a heart attack and seeing a cardiologist for life, she will see an oncologist for the rest of her very, very, long healthy life.

Very few people know what happened with my Gianna…May 2nd when she was 17 yrs. old, (20 days before she was to turn 18), a senior in high school, accepted to a university she really wanted…she was having pain in her right side. I took her to the hospital… Appendix. Next morning, she had surgery. The dr came out post-surgery telling me her surgery went well and she was in recovery. He also told me her appendix was swollen/inflamed. Told me not to fret, it all goes to pathology. So, I didn’t fret at all. Ten days later it was her post op visit. I still wasn’t concerned so we had plans to go prom dress shopping after followed by dinner. It was going to be a girl’s day! The incisions look good. He then told me pathology came back and she had a carcinoid tumor in her appendix. I had nooooooo idea wtf he was talking about! I knew about tumors but not the other word. After the realization, I can’t even begin to tell you what that examining room became! He sent me immediately to an oncologist because of our reaction to this news. After hearing the news, my baby wiped her tears away and she said, “mommy can we go dress shopping, I don’t want this to change things” yes baby, yes and so we went and made the best of the situation. She went to prom that year, this didn’t hold her back.

The oncologist explained that if they knew what was in there, they would not have performed an appendectomy, they would have performed a right hemicolectomy instead. So, he told me she now needs a right hemicolectomy to remove, if any, remaining (just to be sure) and they would do it there (center state medical). After this conversation, I didn’t know where to turn other than my best friend’s family. I knew they had the knowledge to help me and they certainly did. (Even from heaven my best friend, Felicia, helps me). Sloan Kettering NYC in June is when my baby had just turned 18yrs old, had right hemicolectomy surgery. We walked into the recovery room, she sees me and starts crying “is it all gone mommy? Am I fine now?” My emotions were so high – THIS IS MY BABY!!

During her recovery, I brought up college and she said “Mommy, after all of this, I don’t want to go away. I want to stay close to home.” So, she gave up on going to the University she wanted and now goes to a local college. I’m happy to have her close to home but sad that she changed her dream school. She stayed in the hospital a few days and them came home to recover. One pain killer…that’s all she took through all her pain because she feels that opiates are addicting – my strong girl! Her post op visit with the surgeon went well. Less than a week after the right hemicolectomy…my strong baby, our girl, slowly walked to accept her high school diploma at her High School Graduation. I was never more proud of her.

We then made appts with an oncologist at Sloan that said what Gianna had “rarely comes back, but nothing is definitive”. We were told in a year to have an MRI and come back for check-up. So a year passed, we got an MRI, went to oncologist…she comes in said everything looked fine. The radiologist saw something that many people have post-surgery called post-surgical scarring in the MRI and because of what happened to Gianna, they wanted to have her wait 6 months and have another MRI which leads us to the present. I am happy to report that everything is okay and she received the all clear. My baby girl is 19 now, and has been in college for 2 years never letting this get her down. She has the softest, sweetest heart. She greets everyone with a genuine smile on her face. She’s beautiful inside and out. I’m thankful, I’m blessed that she is mine. This is her story, my why.