WHEN their little girl went off her food, felt sick and was clingy, Bianca and Mark thought she had caught a bug.
Harlow Langtree was 15 months old at the time.
Fearing an ear infection, her parents took her to the doctors.
When they referred Harlow to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County, the couple began to fear something was seriously wrong.
But they could not have imagined what would unfold.
Their toddler was diagnosed with ovarian cancer – a form of the disease typically found in women who have been through the menopause.
Since the shock diagnosis, Harlow has been having aggressive treatment, including chemo – and doctors say she’s doing well in spite of her 50:50 chance of surviving.
Stay-at-home mum Bianca said: “When you hear a doctor tell you your child has a fifty-fifty chance of surviving and being told your daughter would undergo very rigorous and intense chemotherapy, it’s very scary.
“We first noticed things weren’t right in April of 2016.
“Harlow was fifteen months old, and she wasn’t being herself, she was very clingy.
“She had a lack of appetite, random throwing up and wanted to be held rather than run around.
“That’s when we knew she wasn’t right.”
The 27-year-old from California, was four months pregnant with her second daughter, Sienna, now 11 months old, by British husband, Mark, at the time.
When they showed us the X-ray of her tumour, in her tiny body, I wanted to throw up. It felt like someone was punching me in the stomach continuously
Bianca Langtree, Harlow’s Mum
She said they were shocked when tests at hospital showed a tumour on their baby girl’s left ovary.
“When they showed us the X-ray of her tumour, in her tiny body, I wanted to throw up,” Bianca said.
“It felt like someone was punching me in the stomach continuously, until I couldn’t breathe any longer.”
Harlow had surgery immediately, to remove the tumour as well as her left ovary.
And surgeons removed her appendix as a precaution, to prevent the cancer spreading.
Bianca and Mark waited until their daughter had been through surgery and her first round of chemo, before breaking the news to family and friends.
The mum-of-two said: “Once the initial shock was over, it was easier to answer any questions we knew would be asked.
“We lost a lot of friends on the journey.
“People don’t know what to say or do, so they say nothing. It’s very isolating.
OVARIAN CANCER IN KIDS
OVARIAN cancer can affect infants and young girls.
Ovarian tumours account for one per cent of cancerous tumours in kids aged newborn to 17.
In girls younger than eight, four out of five ovarian tumours are benign.
The most common type of ovarian cancer in kids is a germ cell tumour.
In most cases doctors will operate to remove the tumour, before chemotherapy.
“I think the first time I cried was after we left Harlow in the operating room to remove her tumour.
“I had been holding my emotions back for so long, for fear of scaring Harlow more than she already was.”
Every time a nurse got close to Harlow, she would burst into tears.
Watching their daughter on a video monitor in her room, Mark and Bianca cried, desperate for their little one to pull through.
“I remember us just saying, ‘how can a baby so precious, be so sick?’,” Bianca said.
“It was so unfair, we both wished it was us and not her.”
The couple set up the Harlow The Brave page on social media, to document and make the most of their happy moments and memories.
Bianca said doing so has been really therapeutic, helping distract the family and help friends follow Harlow’s journey.
“I have my good days and bad days,” she admitted.
“The best days are the ones I don’t even think about the past and can just focus on the present.
“We don’t know what’s in store for us or for Harlow.
“Harlow’s cancer is very, very aggressive and has a high possibility of relapse.
“That’s why they did a stem cell transplant and wiped out her entire body basically to give her an ultimately new life with new healthy cells.
“I am sure my husband and I suffer from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder, but all cancer parents I’ve spoken to feel the same way.”
Bianca said Harlow’s test results are now “normal”, so the family are concentrating on having fun together.
The two-year-old loves riding carousels at the local zoo, walking in the park, dancing and singing.
“Every afternoon before dinner we have a ‘dance party’ in our living room,” Bianca said.
“It’s the simple things that we missed the most during her treatment. So, we try to do something to make her smile every day.”
Their tough journey has meant that they have lost friends along the way partly due to some comments they have received.
“A close friend of mine, at the time (not anymore because of this comment) texted me and asked, ‘is she going to make it?’ What kind of friend even questions that? It was horrible, and it hurt,” Bianca said.
“When Harlow had just finished treatment and had no hair, we often got people saying, ‘you have such a cute boy’ or ‘look how cute he is’.
“I know they weren’t being mean in any way, but it is just sad she doesn’t have long hair like a normal two-year-old should.
“You could tell it made them uncomfortable and we often found people couldn’t turn away or would avoid looking in our direction when out in public. Thankfully Harlow was too young to notice any of this.
“Harlow still has a long road ahead of her; she is only in her first year of remission.
“So, she still has clinic visits every six to eight weeks for blood draws to check her tumour markers (a way to track of there is cancer cells in her).
“Never lose hope. Never ever give up.
“As a parent you have to stay strong for your child but it is also okay to cry from time to time.
“Even when you are in the thick of it all, remember how brave and strong your child is.
“You must fight for them just as they are fighting for themselves.
“Be their advocate. Be their strength. Show them more love than you knew was humanly possible.
“Never lose sight of the ones you love and get help if it is available.”
Via : thesun