“Every child’s story is heartbreaking as these kids go through so much. Here’s my brave girl’s story…”- Brenda, Mia’s Mother

Mia is a very happy, outgoing, and sweet girl. Brenda, Mia’s mother, says she did not have any symptoms before being diagnosed with pediatric cancer. Brenda remembers taking Mia shopping on a Thursday afternoon in January of 2017. They went into one of the dressing rooms to try on some shirts and Brenda remembers standing Mia on a bench. It must have been the perfect angle with the perfect lighting for Mia’s mom to notice something did not look right. Her rib cage on her right side looked slightly elevated, just a tad abnormal. Brenda mentioned this discovery to Mia’s father on a Friday night and then on Saturday morning, they decided it would be best to take her to the hospital to have her examined. Mia’s brothers, who were nine and 12 years old at the time, stayed home with their Father, while Brenda took Mia to the hospital. The family had plans to go to Seaworld that day. Unfortunately, they never made it to the amusement park.

When Brenda brought Mia into the hospital, the receptionist was confused. Mia was smiling, laughing, and singing and she showed no signs of needing a doctor. When Mia’s father learned they were doing X-Ray’s, he decided to drop their sons off with their grandmother and met Brenda and Mia at the hospital. Brenda was a bit confused as to why he did not wait for them to get results. At the time, she felt as though it was unnecessary for him to be there. He walked in the room and barely a minute later the Doctor did too. He suggested Mia needed an MRI with contrast. Both of Mia’s parents were confused and wanted to know why the doctor had suspicions and wanted to request an MRI. The doctor’s response changed their lives forever. He explained there was a mass on her kidney, a mass that does not belong there. After the results from Mia’s MRI came back, it was confirmed. The radiologist came in and told Mia’s parents, “Your whole life just changed.”

They were transported by ambulance to John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg Florida, which was about two hours away from their home. After numerous tests, it was again confirmed Mia had a mass that they believed was the size of a large orange growing on her right kidney. She was scheduled for surgery for that following Monday. After hours in the operating room, Mia’s kidney could not be saved and she had a nephrectomy, which is the removal of a kidney. Her tumor was the size of a melon and ruptured upon removal. The doctor’s also placed a port on her left side above her chest as she would have to go through months of chemotherapy and radiation. Mia, at four years old, was diagnosed with a Stage III Favorable Histology Wilms Tumor, a type of kidney cancer, on January 28th, 2017.

Mia recovered well from her surgery. After 12 days in the hospital, she and her family were finally able to go home. Weeks went by and Mia had started her chemotherapy, along with a seven day radiation session on the right side of her abdomen. After a few weeks of treatment, Mia began having excruciating pains in her abdomen. She was admitted four different times for this pain. Doctors were trying to find what was causing her so much pain. They initially believed her chemotherapy was causing her pain. Mia was prescribed multiple medications for pain management. At one point, doctors believed it was a gluten allergy, acid reflux, a motility issue with her intestines, or side effects from the chemo and radiation. Ultimately, nothing helped Mia with her pain. After weeks of holding off on her chemotherapy treatments, Mia underwent a second surgery, which was exploratory, to determine what was going on and what could be causing her excruciating stomach pains. Her stomach was swollen and nothing would help her feel better, not even morphine. Doctor’s found a few adhesions and believed she would be better moving forward. Nine days after surgery, Mia was feeling the same horrible pains again. This time they suggested to give her stomach a break from solid foods and placed a PICC line and put her on TPN, total parenteral nutrition. Mia was not getting any better, but rather worse. Mia’s parents started to look elsewhere for different care options. After many emails and phone calls, Brenda felt like she was harassing everyone for someone to hear them out and help their little girl. Doctor Nurko at Boston Children’s Hospital finally accepted Mia as a patient.

In April of 2017, Mia and both of her parents were transported via medical jet to Boston. Unfortunately, they had to leave their boys behind and traveled over 1000 miles to take Mia where they hoped they would get some answers. A little over 24 hours of being at Boston Children’s Hospital, doctors completed an X-Ray and Dr. Dickie, took Mia in for her third emergency surgery. Dr. Dickie found a lower bowel obstruction that was causing Mia all this pain. After a four hour surgery, they hoped and prayed Mia would feel better soon. The weeks went by and after being admitted for a total of 52 days, the family was discharged. They stayed at a local Ronald McDonald House while Mia’s Father drove back to Florida to pick up her brothers. The family made a very hard decision. They closed their home and moved to Boston to complete Mia’s treatment. After living in a hotel for three weeks, the Ronald McDonald House was able to help them find a studio apartment to live in until Mia was finished. The months went by and Mia received a total of 20 rounds of chemotherapy and 14 days of radiation.

On September 22nd, 2017 Mia completed her last day of chemotherapy. The family flew back to Florida and tried to find their new normal. They continue to travel to Boston every three months for scans. As of now, Mia has been in remission one year! Brenda says, “It’s been a roller coaster of emotions. I don’t think our life will ever be the same again, but our girl continues to be happy, outgoing, and positive.”

Runway to Hope had the pleasure of meeting this incredible young lady at the Bloomingdale’s Bash Weekend in 2018. Mia hopes to become a teacher one day and she wants everyone to believe in unicorns just like her! Mia is about to turn five years old on December 10th, 2018, so make sure to visit Runway to Hope’s Facebook page to show her some love! Our team loved hearing that Mia still talks about walking on the Runway along with other fighters just like her. Brenda warmed our hearts by saying, “It is foundations like Runway to Hope that offer a helping hand to families who are affected by Childhood Cancer that make things just a bit easier.” As we prepare for our Spring Fashion Soiree on May 18th, we hope Mia will join us again! Hearing stories like Mia’s give the community inspiration to keep battling alongside Runway to Hope against pediatric cancer! Join us today!

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