Pearce was diagnosed on Feb 22, 2008 with a mass in her brain the size of a small lemon and was transferred to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia the next day after a MRI confirmed the CT-scan from the night before. On Feb 25, 2008, she underwent surgery to remove what was known as a medulloblastoma or PNET tumor. The surgery was considered a success, as the surgeon did a total gross resection of the tumor. Five days later we were told that it was malignant and she would need continued treatment.
After this news we looked into options, and there were few, since this is a rare type of cancer in children. We believe only fifteen percent of children treated have this type of tumor. We where told she was standard risk which has a 85-90%, five year survival rate. The next day we where told that they had a misleading report from her spinal tap, due to inflammation in the spinal fluid, and her risk level was changed to high. This greatly reduced her chances of survival, the average was 50% survival rate.
We spoke to her nuero oncologist, who treats this tumor in about twenty to twenty-five cases a year, to discuss options about her treatment and the long term affects of treatment. We decided to try an aggressive protocol that was in a clinical trail phase for the last few years with promising results and a possible increase in survival to 70%.
Pearce underwent thirty-one rounds of high dose radiation to her brain and spine at U of PENN Hospital. This treatment was daily, and had adverse side affects, yet she still was able to smile and most importantly Pearce befriended several of the adult patients and made them smile. Several of these patients still correspond with her today. Prior to her start of this treatment she had about 3 million stem cells removed from her blood and a whole battery of base line tests.
After a six week break Pearce started chemotherapy which consisted of three days of chemo, one day of IV flush, stem cell transplant on the fifth day, then twenty-three days of trying to get her blood counts back to safe levels. This was all done inpatient with her mother or father with her twenty-four/seven.
After each round we had a week off from inpatient which included three to four trips back to the hospital for testing including tests to her lungs, heart, ears, blood, learning ability and a MRI. The MRI test was three hours long and she had to be under sedation due to the fact she could not move in any way. She has had at least ten MRI tests this year.
Pearce participated in many events to help others including a protocol study on the effects of Acetaminophen use in IV infusion while in the Intensive Care Unit after surgery. Another way she helped was a Radio-thon at the hospital to raise funds for the hospital. She flew six thousand miles to help out with Stand Up To Cancer, which raised over 117 million dollars for cancer research and the next day walked around Six Flags Great Adventure to help raise $37,000.00 for Cure Kids Cancer, all this while on her week break between treatments. During her trip to CA she had to go to Los Angeles Children's Hospital twice for tests and was still able to make friends while there.
Pearce is an incredibly gifted child who sets and achieves high goals. She has been awarded a Board of Education Honor Roll for her perfect testing in her Delaware DSTP test last year, and like her brother Asa, is currently a Distinguished Honor Roll designee. She attends school at Cab Calloway School of Arts in Wilmington, DE. She has played sports including soccer, roller and ice hockey, track and most recently volleyball. She loves to read and is a wonderful writer of fiction stories.
Pearce has taught us that no matter what life brings us we will be OK. Her ability to face fear and conquer it is at the least inspiring to many people. She has the ability many people wish they had and that is the ability to enjoy life today and not to worry about what tomorrow may bring. We have been given the diagnoses of NED or no evidence of disease since November 2008 and this is a joyful thing to any family of a child with cancer.
Pearce wants to continue to help other children with cancer and will be working with Pearce Q. Foundation, Inc., a foundation set up to help her to achieve this goal. We hope you find her story inspiring and look forward to your support.
Watch Pearce's video on You Tube to better understand her last year.
Help Pearce help kids with cancer.