Cultivating happiness after surviving liver cancer

Cultivating happiness after surviving liver cancer

Victoria | Texas Children's Cancer Center

Four years ago, Victoria was battling hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer, at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, today she is a very happy 5-year-old.  Looking back at the last four years since her diagnosis, Maria Garcia Fernandez, Victoria’s mother, reflects on the family’s journey from a difficult diagnosis to navigating their new normal.

How is Victoria doing now?

Maria: Victoria is now a very happy, creative 5-year-old who enjoys drawing, art class and playing dress-up with her older sister. Victoria has hearing loss, a side effect of chemotherapy drugs so she wears hearing aids and attends kindergarten at the Melinda Webb School where she receives speech therapy. She has been well since 2016, with no evidence of disease. She is just a healthy, happy, bubbly, creative girl and we feel incredibly blessed for each day we get to see her grow.

What does follow up care look like for Victoria?

Maria: Thankfully, Texas Children's Cancer Center provides comprehensive follow-up care and she is followed there every 6 months. In addition, she receives weekly speech therapy, attends the Melinda Webb School/Center for Hearing and Speech. She is fortunate that advanced hearing technology is available to provide her with sound access, so crucial to her language development. We are very grateful to Texas Children’s Hospital for caring for her well beyond her initial diagnosis.

What does it look like to find your new normal after Victoria’s treatment?

Maria: I think the most difficult thing after completion of therapy was to move past the worry while trusting that our daughter would be fine. Each follow-up appointment was reassuring. While we knew time would help, we also realized we needed to simply accept joy in each moment and keep cultivating our family’s happiness daily. 

Do you have any advice for other parents facing a difficult diagnosis?

Maria: I would go back to the message of our original post, to ask the questions you have and trust your doctors. In our experience at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, everyone on Victoria’s team was doing their very best to implement a thoughtful plan of care for her. Trust their compassionate expertise and know your child is the best hands. I know it is a very difficult process having experienced it but it allows you to focus on being the parent your child needs so desperately. We relied on our doctors completely and are eternally grateful for the excellent care Victoria received.


Maria and Fernando Padilla, Victoria's parents

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