Honored Kid

Melissa Kavounas

Melissa Kavounas Kid Photo


Macungie, PA, US


Recurrent, malignant endocrine paraganglioma

Date of Diagnosis

September 2010



Treated At

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

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My Story

Thank you for supporting me and the more than 300,000 kids worldwide who will be diagnosed with cancer this year. By sharing the gifts of your time, talent and money with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, you're supporting research to give all kids with cancer a better chance for a cure. To see Melissa you woud never know how sick she is. She is the happiest, most polite and pleasant little girl you would ever want to meet. She brightens the world of every person she meets! Melissa was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 10. She began with very fast heart rates, very high blood pressures and sweating. By the time she got to the emergency room, it was as though someone had flipped a switch. The sypomtoms had stopped and she was perfectly fine! This went on for several months until the summer of 2010 when she nearly passed out. This time, when I got her to the doctor her blood pressure was bottoming out and we were wisked away to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. It took what seemed like weeks to come up with a diagnosis. All things were pointing in the direction of an endocrine paraganglioma but that is a very rare cancer for children so maybe not. The docs eliminated all other options, did a lot of labs and came back with the final diagnosis - cancer, an edocrine paraganglioma. The best option was surgery. We went through the surgery of removing the tumor which was located in the abdomen at a very tricky place for the surgeon to get to. All looked well. She recouperated and we went home. All was wonderful for a year! Then, here we go again. Symptoms all over again. This time, scans revealed that the tumor had spread. Our hearts were broken. Dr.Doolin, the surgeon, agreed to remove the main tumor again. We were so happy when he came to us to tell us that he was able to remove all but a microscopic spec. Yea, we thought we would have another year to keep this "monster" at bay! We went for follow-up scans after a few months and we did not get good news. The tumors were spreading again and were larger. Now Melissa has 4 abdominal tumors, her spine is involved and a tumor was found on her skull. Surgery is no longer a beneficial option. Now we are moving to the next level, radiation therapy. Melissa has survived so many traumas. She was born with a hypoplastic left ventricle and has had many other medical issues in her short 13 years. She cannot undergo chemotherapy because of her other medical issues. Radiation therapy is our only option at this time. The best we can hope for is a miracle but until that comes our way we will proceed with the radiation therapy to slow the tumors down. We have been through one treatment with little to no side effects and will be following up with more scans and possibly more treatments.

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