Xmas can­cer tri­umph

CHRIST­MAS IS A TRI­UMPH

Joondalup Weekender - - Front Page - Madi­son and Lara Goss. Pic­ture: Bruce Hunt www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d463613

ON Christ­mas Eve, when Madi­son Goss was two, her fam­ily learned she had a rare and ag­gres­sive liver tu­mour. Ten can­cer-free Christ­mases on, the bat­tle the Amer­i­can-born Hil­larys girl has en­dured epit­o­mises the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of a child un­der siege.

EACH Christ­mas since 2006 has been a tri­umph for Madi­son Goss.

It’s a decade this year since the Hil­larys res­i­dent (12) was di­ag­nosed on Christ­mas Eve and at age two, with a rare liver can­cer.

Born in the US to a Texan mother and Aus­tralian father, Madi­son’s mum Lara dis­cov­ered a hard mass in her daugh­ter’s stom­ach when she was chang­ing her nappy in At­lanta.

An ul­tra­sound un­cov­ered a grape­fruit-sized tu­mour known as a hep­a­to­blas­toma or as Maddi called it at the time “my bump”.

It is the same can­cer that crooner Michael Bu­ble re­cently an­nounced had af­flicted his three-year-old son.

Mrs Goss said just 150 Amer­i­can chil­dren a year are di­ag­nosed with the dis­ease.

“The doc­tors also re­vealed that this tu­mour of Maddi’s was likely not go­ing to re­spond to chemo very well,” she said.

“They wanted us to have Christ­mas at home and then come back the day af­ter to be­gin the chemo.”

The ag­gres­sive blend of three chemo­ther­apy types was de­bil­i­tat­ing on the 2½year-old’s body.

The toll in­ten­si­fied af­ter spe­cial­ists also found a nod­ule in Maddi’s lung.

The sup­pres­sion of Maddi’s de­fences led to her con­tract­ing a deadly lung in­fec­tion known as res­pi­ra­tory syn­cy­tial virus (RSV).

It left the frag­ile pa­tient cling­ing to life for many days in the ICU at the Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal of At­lanta.

“Maddi be­came ex­tremely sick af­ter each in­pa­tient chemo ad­min­is­tra­tion since her im­mune sys­tem was wiped out,” Mrs Goss said.

“Af­ter four hor­ren­dous months, the doc­tors had to make a huge de­ci­sion af­ter look­ing at her lat­est CT re­sults – this de­ci­sion re­ally was a life or death one.”

Ex­perts de­ter­mined the ail­ing tod­dler would need a liver trans­plant af­ter dis­cov­er­ing small seg­ments of tu­mour in other parts of the or­gan. Crit­i­cally, the fourth chemo­ther­apy vari­a­tion had dis­man­tled the growth on her lung.

Had it been un­suc­cess­ful, Maddi would not have been a trans­plant can­di­date.

Doc­tors found Mrs Goss to be a liv­ing donor match for her daugh­ter, but were re­luc­tant to take that path be­cause of its risks.

With each day cru­cial, they al­lowed just one week to find a de­ceased donor or else the mother-of-four would go un­der the knife.

Three days later came hope.

“A per­fect de­ceased donor liver was found for Maddi,” Mrs Goss said.

“I re­mem­ber see­ing the or­gan de­liv­ery worker walk past the room.

“In that small con­tainer, new life awaited our lit­tle girl.

“Mixed with our tremen­dous joy, there was grief.

“Some­where, some­one's pre­cious child had passed away.

“Their young loved one's death brought life to the one we love.

“Those par­ents’ lives have been com­pletely al­tered by this loss.

“Our lives are for­ever changed by this gift.”

Ten years on in her adopted city of Perth, the trans­plant has an Aus­tralian-ac­cented Maddi re­main­ing can­cer-free.

Doc­tors told the fam­ily they had never seen such a strong re­sponse to chemo­ther­apy for hep­a­to­blas­toma.

The soon-to-be teenager re­quires daily anti-re­jec­tion med­i­ca­tion and is im­mune sup­pressed.

But as her proud mother said, her new liver “con­tin­ues to func­tion beau­ti­fully” as she ap­proaches her 10th Christ­mas since the har­row­ing or­deal.

Pic­ture: Bruce Hunt

Madi­son Goss (12) was aged two when she was di­ag­nosed with a rare liver can­cer.

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