One of five St. Baldrick's Foundation 2011 Ambassador KidsSix-year-old Iana is described by her mother, Sara, as a vibrant, energetic social butterfly who is full of questions and has an iron clad memory.She seemed to be a perfectly healthy two-year-old until her daycare provider noticed blood in her diaper. Sara took her daughter to the pediatrician and an ultrasound showed a mass in her abdomen. The next day, doctors at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, in Milwaukee, diagnosed her with stage IV Wilms tumor. “I was in a state of shock and numbness to know that my baby would have to endure what I didn’t even understand,” Sara said.Over the course of six months, Iana underwent rounds of chemotherapy, surgery to remove her tumor and right kidney, five days of radiation and shots given twice daily in her abdomen to prevent blood clots. She sailed through many of her treatments but detested the repeated needle pokes. Her love for stickers, especially those featuring a princess or Dora the Explorer, motivated her to get through it.
“Iana was very fortunate that even though she was diagnosed with cancer at a bad stage, she was finished with everything in six months,” Sara said. “We’ve watched a lot of other families go through far worse treatments and treatment lengths.”Today, Iana is cancer free. The hour-long drive to the hospital has been replaced with dance and tap classes, singing, honing her art skills, playing with her younger sisters and going to kindergarten. However, swimming is her favorite pastime. According to her grandmother, Cathy, a longtime St. Baldrick’s volunteer, “Iana spends hours perfecting her diving techniques in our pool and would spend every waking hour swimming if we let her.”Iana doesn’t remember everything about her cancer experience but it taught her important life lessons. Last year, her birthday wish was to share all except one of her presents with children in the hospital. “I wished that Iana would not have to live life focused on cancer,” said Cathy. Both wishes were granted. Birthday presents were enjoyed by many and Cathy hopes that research will make her wish also come true for every other child touched by this disease.
_________Iana's story, as written by her family:Iana is 4 years old now and was diagnosed with a Wilms Tumor on her right kidney in January of 2007 when she was just a little over 2 years old. She went through treatment and in April 2007, she had the tumor (and kidney) removed. She is now a vibrant little girl who enjoys dancing, music and books. She attends preschool at the YMCA and thoroughly enjoys learning. Iana is the honored child for the Fond du Lac WI event along with her cousin, Owen Ahern (age 9), who was diagnosed with cancer this past summer (Owen is pictured above with Iana).