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One year ago, Maelle bounced on her tippy toes to the sound of a Spice Girl song coming from her mom’s iPhone. She stepped from side to side with her hands
up in the air, being extra careful to not knock out her IV. Every so ofen, she’d look over at her mom and dad with a smile as she wiggled her hips.
It had been a long day of testing at Children’s Hospital Colorado, and the family was taking a break to have a dance party. It was a welcome distraction from the hard realities the family had faced over the past several years.
Today, 9-year-old Maelle continues to live with a benign tumor located on her optic nerve. Doctors first discovered the tumor five years ago when Maelle complained to her parents that her head hurt, and her eyes started crossing. Doctors in their hometown of Greeley, Colo., iscovered a three-centimeter mass in her brain and immediately sent the family to Children’s Hospital Colorado where Maelle had a biopsy.
Doctors determined the tumor was not cancerous, but because of its precarious location, they advised that it was also inoperable. However, they still needed to shrink it to avoid impacting Maelle’s vision. After careful consideration, Maelle’s family and care team decided to shrink the tumor with chemotherapy. Despite struggling through ongoing complications, Maelle never lost her joyful spirit, and she soon became famous for doing song and dance performances for her care team, often drawing crowds of 15 or more. “She’s almost always happy,” said her mom, Kristen. “Her smile and positive attitude gets us through it.”
After seven months of chemotherapy, the tumor had shrunk significantly. Maelle was able to cease treatment and return to her normal routine. For two years, she enjoyed life outside of the hospital and became an avid volleyball player. But, unfortunately, at a quarterly check-up last year, doctors discovered that Maelle’s tumor started growing again, necessitating additional treatment at Children’s Colorado.
Maelle’s Update: This past year, Maelle began a more targeted approach to treat the growth of her tumor. She took medication twice a day for a year and had monthly hospital visits. She had some challenging side effects from the medication and four months into treatment she got a blood clot. However, Maelle remained positive and the tumor shrunk by 60%.
Today, Maelle continues to visit Children’s Colorado frequently undergoing a slew of tests to determine the best way to manage her tumor. Recently, doctors noticed that her tumor has grown slightly, but is not in need of treatment and is not affecting her vision. She still loves to play volleyball, dance and sing.
“Words cannot describe what Children’s Colorado means to us,” Kristen says. “A hospital isn’t a place where most people would choose to be. And yet, I always feel at ease here, knowing our daughter is getting the best care available. They are nothing short of amazing.”