For parents Lauren and Michael McAfee, the small moments with their daughter Zion can mean everything. Seven weeks after adopting Zion, doctors discovered a tumor in her liver, but Lauren McAfee has been keeping people updated on Zion’s treatment — and it’ll lift everyone’s spirits.
Zion’s liver tumor was diagnosed as hepatoblastoma, and seeing as she had just entered into the McAfee’s lives, the parents were at a loss of what to do.Read More
Despite the initial concern, McAfee has been sharing photos of her and Zion on social media. In one post, she revealed that “everything checked out fine” during Zion’s quarterly oncology appointment this month and they’ve been celebrating special moments such as their first Mother’s Day and McAfee’s first birthday as a mother.
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For 7 years, I had an unfulfilled longing for children. And every year as Mother’s Day rolled around, I was tempted to imagine I would be happier if I had the children I longed for. Today, my first mother’s day with my sweet daughter, I am experiencing a day that doesn’t feel necessarily any more or less happy than every other year. To be clear – Zion does bring me immense joy and I am beyond blessed to be her mother – but contentment shouldn’t be swayed by our situation. Our contentment was never supposed to be in our circumstances. Contentment comes in Christ and finding our fulfillment in Him. So to all the mamas out there, I am grateful we get to keep loving our babies, not because of what they bring to us – but we care for them because of our love for God. And to those that have deep unfulfilled longings, be reminded that God your father sees you, and loves you. He is our fulfillment.
Zion’s Cancer Battle
While speaking to SurvivorNet, McAfee said that Zion’s tumor was discovered through an unrelated medical scan during a routine checkup. One of those routine checkups was an MRI. That’s when doctors first spotted a 6 cm tumor on little Zion’s liver — which would later be confirmed as hepatoblastoma, a type of cancer that affects fewer than one in 1 million children. Surgery was needed.
Luckily for the McAfees, if hepatoblastoma is caught before it has spread beyond the liver, children have a survival rate over 70 percent. The cancer can be cured through surgery along roughly 50 percent of the time, but the other half of the time, more treatment is needed. Zion underwent surgery and doctors were able to remove the entire tumor. However, Zion needed a six-week course of chemotherapy following the surgeries after doctors confirmed they had found “active cancer cells.”
It’s still unknown whether Zion has been declared cancer-free, but judging by McAfee’s Instagram posts, they are still remaining positive and enjoying their time together.
Caring For Pediatric Cancer Patients During COVID-19
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals have suspended family visitation in order to keep patients and visitors safe. However, with this visitation suspended, parents caring for their children in the hospital may be more difficult.
Dr. Puvri Parikh, an Immunologist at New York University (NYU) Langone Health, talked to SurvivorNet about the reality pediatric cancer patients are facing amid coronavirus. According to Dr. Parikh, children with cancer are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, despite the low number of pediatric deaths from the virus. This is due to their compromised immune systems as well as experiencing treatments that may further weaken immune responses.
Dr. Parikh encourages parents to ease their children’s fear by explaining that the limitations are for safety reasons. She also points out that there are a few ways to connect to a patient that is not face to face, such as using virtual platforms like FaceTime, Zoom, and others.
“Because of technology we’re lucky,” Dr. Parikh says. “Social distancing is a little bit easier than it maybe would have been 20 or 30 years ago.”