After an MRI and surgical biopsy in July of 2009, Brittani was diagnosed with Giant Cell Tumor of the Cervical Spine. As you can imagine, this was devastating for our family. We were, however, ready and willing to fight for our daughter’s life.
Written by Marilyn Simon, on behalf of her daughter Brittani
In the spring of 2009, my daughter started having mild back pain. We brought her to our pediatrician who thought she was overexerting herself in basketball and told us to give her Motrin to see if the pain would go away. The pain did not go away and became more severe and persistent. We made several trips to our pediatrician and x rays showed nothing. My daughter then started experiencing numbness in her arms and hands. After an MRI and surgical biopsy in July of 2009, Brittani was diagnosed with Giant Cell Tumor of the Cervical Spine. As you can imagine, this was devastating for our family. We were however ready and willing to fight for our daughter’s life.
My daughter went through 6 painful surgeries, only to have the tumor grow back even more aggressively again. In November of 2009, Brittani started a 4 month period of chemotherapy treatment, during which she lost 40 pounds. After chemotherapy, the tumor grew back immediately and aggressively. Brittani started losing her ability to walk this time and her pain increased even more.
While researching online, we found a clinical trial in Los Angeles, CA that was having some amazing results with the type of tumor that Brittani had. I decided to take my daughter immediately to Los Angeles to see if she would qualify for the study. While there, they told us about a wonderful organization, Lazarex Cancer Foundation, which provided assistance to patients participating in clinical trials. I contacted them immediately and told them about my daughter. It brings tears to my eyes just remembering how compassionate and understanding they were. They were there for us when we thought there was no hope. We felt like everyone had given up.
We started the treatment and soon after we started to see the amazing results that the other participants experienced. My daughter was no longer experiencing the severe pain that she had experienced for the year prior to the study. She immediately began regaining her ability to hold objects and to walk. After 6 months, the tumor could not be seen on the CT scan! My daughter was able to start going to school again in the fall of 2010.
Brittani is now in the 10th grade and looking forward to going to college in 2 years. She would like to be a doctor. She continues on the denosumab treatments. We make trips to Los Angeles every month and continue to participate in the trial study. No sign of the tumor on numerous CT scans. She gets occasional infections and rashes but no pain, numbness or loss of movement anywhere. All of her doctors are very impressed with the results. We continue to thank God every day for the help and support of Lazarex Cancer Foundation.
Update: May 2017
Brittani is attending her sophomore year in college. In 2015 she was declared cancer free and the clinical trial drug she received was FDA approved!
Update June 2021
Congratulations to Brittani on her college graduation!! Brittani was a Lazarex VIP (very important patient) from 2010 through 2015. We are thrilled to wish her a blessed and bright future.