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In 2009 when Brooke was just 2 1/2 years old a persistent stomach virus led her to the doctor. After several conditions were ruled out, her doctors still weren't sure what was causing her pain. She was sent to the ER for more tests and for an IV to help with dehydration. Brooke had an x-ray, ultrasound, and finally a CT scan in which doctors saw a tumor the size of a potato was wrapped around her adrenal gland.
Looking back on Brooke's diagnosis, her mother, Kristine often remarks on how lucky they were that Brooke developed a stomach virus; her stomach pains were not a symptom or even related to the cancer, but they helped doctors detect the tumor and start treatment immediately.
Brooke and her family spent 15 days at INOVA Fairfax Hospital enduring multiple tests and scans, determining the scope of her diagnosis with neuroblastoma; and eventually preparing her for surgery. Luckily, doctors were able to perform a full resection which eliminated the need for chemotherapy and radiation. Kristine is incredibly grateful for the thoroughness and patience of Brooke’s surgeon. "He wanted to make sure that he removed the whole tumor. If he hadn't, we're not sure where Brooke would be today," she says.
Brooke just had her 4-year post surgery scans, and the family is celebrating the fact that they came back clean and that Brooke can enjoy being a six-year-old. "We feel so lucky. We have seen so many families who have been through so much more. We almost feel guilty for the success that Brooke has had," explains Kristine. Nowadays, the only physical reminder of Brooke's cancer is the rainbow shaped scar across her abdomen, but the memories of the friends they made at the hospital will live on forever.