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Abby Cafiero

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Abby, fondly known as “Squishy,” was diagnosed one week after she turned 4 in 2019 with a rare brain cancer called AT/RT. She had been experiencing headaches since the fall that would not go away despite lifestyle changes such as healthier food, extra water, and more rest. Since these changes were not helping the headaches, Abby's pediatrician sent us to the eye doctor in the event she needed glasses and pressure on her optic nerve was discovered. A few days later she underwent an MRI, and a lemon-sized tumor was found to be enmeshed on her optic nerve and artery. She began experiencing Bell's Palsy and esotropia. Three days later, Abby had brain surgery to remove 90% of her tumor. After surgery, Abby had a g-tube and a port placed weeks later and immediately began chemotherapy.

 

After six months of intense chemotherapy and three stem cell rescues, 8-9% of her tumor still remained. Abby had 28 days of proton radiation under daily anesthesia for the next two months, followed by nine months of oral chemotherapy. In June of 2021, Abby was finished with her treatment plan.

 

She currently sees the doctor every four months for scans, bloodwork, and a checkup. To date, 8% of her tumor remains. Abby is the most upbeat, positive person and loves spending time with her doctor and nurse friends. She always has a smile on her face and a kind word or gesture for those around her. She constantly looks for ways to make her friends smile and loves giving back to the community. Abby and her mom helped start a program in May of 2022 called Abby’s Carts of Courage through nonprofit Respite Retreats in Ellicott City. Children battling cancer are given a wagon filled with comfort items to help them maneuver their journey. She adores connecting with the children and constantly asks, “When can I go to work?” She is an inspiration to all, including her mom, Katie who says, "I want to be like Abby when I grow up." 

 

Date of Diagnosis:
December 5, 2019
Age at Diagnosis:
4 year old
Age Now: 
7 years old
Type of Brain Cancer:
Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (AT/RT)
Summary of Treatment:
-Craniotomy 
-G-tube Placement
-Stem Cell Removal and Transfer
-7 Types of Chemotherapy
-Proton Radiation 
-5 Types of Oral Chemotherapy

“My hope is that Abby’s story not only encourages other brain cancer families, but also helps spread awareness about childhood cancer."
-Katie, Abby's Mom

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