Teen undergoes 27-hour surgery for removal of cancerous tumors
Doctors say Dickinson girl is a true fighter
Feb. 27, 2006 - Texas Children's Hospital
By Laura Frnka
Fifteen-year-old Chelsey recently underwent a 27-hour surgery for the removal of cancerous tumors – tumors that planted themselves in her abdomen adjacent to large arteries, the lung, liver, pancreas and the adrenal gland.
The marathon surgery was just one of the hurdles this teen from Dickinson, Texas has endured since she was diagnosed with cancer in October 2005. This former cheerleader and homecoming queen has gone through multiple rounds of chemotherapy with their side-effects.
“Chelsey has a very rare form of childhood cancer called undifferentiated sarcoma,” said Dr. Mehmet F. Okcu, pediatric oncologist with Texas Children’s Cancer Center and Chelsey’s main physician. “It’s a cancer of the soft tissues and is treated with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.”
After the surgery, Chelsey had 15 separate lesions and all but two of her tumors were removed. One is deep within her liver and the other is wrapped around an artery, close to her liver. Dr. Oluyinka Olutoye, co-surgical director at Texas Children’s Hospital, performed the operation.
The treatment plan for the remaining tumors is chemotherapy and radiation, with another surgery as the last option.
Based on limited experience, very few children survive a diagnosis of metastatic undifferentiated sarcoma and Chelsey whole-heartedly believes she’s one of that few that will make it.
“Chelsey is a special girl – an inspiration to everyone around her,” said Okcu. “She not letting cancer get her down or in her way. She’s a real fighter in every sense of the word.”
Like most childhood cancers, doctors and researchers cannot pinpoint the cause of undifferentiated sarcoma.
“While one can distinguish several lifestyle-related risk factors such as tobacco or alcohol use in some cancers of adults, in only less than 5 percent of childhood cancers we can identify a cause such as a genetic condition in the family or history of radiation therapy,” said Okcu.