HOUSTON – Parents have it hard when a child is diagnosed with cancer. They are required to manage doctors’ appointments, hospitals and insurance on top of worrying about their child.
“Elise's cancer is osteosarcoma," Woodlands mom, Jennifer Robinson, said. "I had never heard of it, I didn't know where to go."
Being the mother of an 8-year-old with cancer took a toll on Robinson, but now Elise Robinson is a pre-teen and she can't even remember the agony.
“The only things that I do remember are the good stuff like… working with pottery and making art,” Elise Robinson said.
She underwent chemotherapy and one leg amputation.
“I can do anything I want to now," Elise Robinson said.
She is on several sports teams, possible because of a prosthetic leg.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Valerae Lewis, from MD Anderson, did a rotationplasty on Elise Robinson, completely removing the area with cancer.
“We actually take out the entire knee joint and just leave the artery and vein attached," Lewis explained. "Then (we) rotate the foot and reattach it so her ankle then becomes her knee."
She said that's why Elise Robinson can run, bike and push off with her prosthetic leg. More importantly, she said, it is evidence for why her first treatment was life-saving.
“When you think of the pediatric patient, if they have the wrong treatment first then their surgical options dwindle," Lewis said.
In some cases, the wrong treatment first can have a worse outcome for the patient and switching hospitals mid-treatment isn't always possible and definitely not easy.
“It's terrible when you know that patients don't have the same options because they had the wrong treatment to start off with,” Lewis said.
Jennifer said they feel fortunate their first treatment was at MD Anderson.
“The protocol for osteosarcoma, it's pretty much the same wherever you go but there are nuances to it," Jennifer Robinson said. "Maybe you change the order of the chemo, maybe one chemo was a little bit less, you would want to go somewhere where doctors have seen it a lot."
Lewis said if you or your child is ever diagnosed with cancer, it's critical to take a step back and figure out your options or get a second opinion.
She said if someone is rushing you into chemo or surgery, get a second opinion. It is an urgent situation but there's almost always time to look at all your options before undergoing a harsh treatment.
September is pediatric cancer awareness month and KPRC is raising awareness and funds to help fight the disease. For more ways to help, visit Click2houston.com/gogold.