TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Like any other baby at her age, Shyann Marie Harris-Edwards is starting to walk. But for her, she’s learning in the Pediatric Oncology Wing at Stormont Vail. A few months ago, doctors told Beth Harris one of the worst things a parent can hear. Your child has cancer.
“Devastating. It’s like someone knocked the wind out of you,” said Harris.
“Something is abnormal with her bone marrow which is the factory that makes all blood cells. So we transferred her here. I did come see her in the morning and looked at the blood underneath the microscope and it did unfortunately look like leukemia, said Dr. Youmna Othman, a Pediatric Hematologist-Oncologist at Stormont Vail Hospital.
Shyann immediately began treatment, but things took a turn. Given her young age, she needed a port surgically placed to deliver chemotherapy. While sedated, Shyann coded; not breathing for several moments.
“She was resuscitated pretty quickly. Once suctioned we got a few medications that brought her back pretty quickly. But it is quite the experience for a child her age and it is quite an experience for the family itself,” said Othman.
After countless appointments in her first phase of treatment, Shyann is in now in remission. Nonetheless, infant leukemia, doctors say, there’s always risk of re-occurrences in the first 6 to 12 months. But, Shyann is a fighter.
Othman said her chances are really good because she went into remission pretty quickly.
“She responded to the chemotherapy pretty quickly. Her genetics for the leukemia are good. She was older, she was 11 months when she was diagnosed, as opposed to a 6-7 week old.”
Beth focuses on each day as it comes, while also trying to let Shyann, just be a little girl.
“She’s gotten to where she’s starting to walk again. We’re trying to get her to walk and be a little girl and have fun. She’s doing pretty well.”
One third of all pediatric cancer patients have leukemia, but 70 to 80 percent of the kids diagnosed, will beat the disease. Today, doctors are doing everything they can to help Shyann be one of the kids who survives.
“Leukemia is what we can treat best. That’s what we pride ourselves on. We oncologists have gotten so good at treating pediatric cancer,” said Othman.
Step by step and one day at a time, Shyann is fighting, determined not to let cancer bring her down.