A Child's Extraordinary Will to Live - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/28/02

A Child's Extraordinary Will to Live

It is every parent's nightmare. Your child is born into this world, a big, healthy baby until you later discover that baby was born with cancer. That was the situation for Melissa Rivera whose life turned upside down on January 2nd.

Melissa Rivera had a normal pregnancy. After all, she already had Andrew, a five year-old. The family thought the second one might be a new year's baby, but little Janiese came into this world on January 2nd at a healthy 10 pounds, 6 ounces, she was delivered by C-Section. Then, the shocking news, "They said they felt something in her stomach. Did an ultrasound and said they found a large mass," said Melissa Rivera, the mother of Janiese.

Janiese was born with a Neuroblastoma, a tumor the size of an orange. She went into surgery and doctors removed the tumor, but noticed black spots all over her liver. The cancer had spread. "I had never seen a baby born with cancer. We didn't know which way she'd go, how she'd react to chemo being so young," said Sarah Ralston, a Pediatric Nurse.

But how could this happen? Melissa had two sonograms. One at two months and again, halfway into her pregnancy. "We just pulled up the images from previous ultrasounds and reviewed them and found no evidence of the tumor," said Dr. Keeli Stumbo. The tumor grew late in the pregnancy.

Janiese began chemotherapy, a complicated formula of powerful cancer fighters. No doubt, risky business for a newborn because it wipes out the immune system. In February, Janiese became very sick and stopped breathing in her mother's arms. "Everything in her body stopped working. I thought I was going to lose her. But one doctor said we're not going to give up. That was Saturday, Sunday she was better, then more better. Now, she's great," said Melissa.

In May, this was the last day of chemo for Janiese. In four months of treatment, the cancer appears gone. There are just faint spots on her liver, and the doctors and nurses at the children's hospital at UMC are hopeful that she will live a normal life. "She's a miracle, and I love her and I wouldn't give anything. They've helped her so much," said Melissa.

This is just one of the miraculous stories you will see this weekend as Karin and Abner host the Children's Miracle Network Celebration. It will start at 7pm Saturday night in hopes of raising as much money as possible to help the hundreds of children that need our help.

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