Princess-Loving Patient Overcomes Cancer as Thriving Preschooler
He and Brooklyn’s mother, Taylor, took her to her pediatrician when she also started to have gastrointestinal symptoms. Despite numerous tests, no clear diagnosis was made. Then, they began to notice physical changes to the shape of Brooklyn’s head, in addition to the fact that her eyes continually watered.
“At the time, we had no idea that tumors were causing these unusual symptoms,” he said. “When we noticed a large mass on her forearm, we took her to Texas Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Center. An ultrasound quickly revealed that the mass on her arm was most likely a malignant tumor.”
And it wasn’t the only one.
Brooklyn’s care team discovered her primary tumor was in her abdomen, and she had a total of 22 areas throughout her young body where her disease had spread. Brooklyn was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer that begins in the very early formation of nerve cells. One metastatic tumor on Brooklyn’s optic nerve affected her vision, and others along her skeletal system, including on her legs, even affected the way she walked.
Under the expert guidance of pediatric oncologist Dr. Jennifer Foster, Brooklyn immediately began an intensive chemotherapy regimen. In the summer of 2020, Dr. Sanjeev A. Vasudevan, a pediatric surgical oncologist, removed the primary tumor in her abdomen, setting the stage for her continued cancer treatment at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center.
“Brooklyn had a very aggressive form of pediatric cancer — high-risk neuroblastoma, which is most common in infants and young children. Brooklyn was very sick in the beginning of her treatment and spent many months in the pediatric intensive care unit,” said Dr. Foster. “Although her tumor did not respond to the initial chemotherapy, it was very responsive to subsequent therapy that included surgery, radiation, and chemoimmunotherapy. It has been an incredible privilege to see Brooklyn’s tumor respond so positively to therapy and to watch her grow into an incredible young girl.”
Thankfully, Brooklyn’s cancer now is in remission, and she’s living the life of an active, thriving four-and-a-half-year-old, besotted with Peppa Pig, blue cotton candy ice cream and absolutely anything princess-related. Her ongoing treatment includes check-ups with Dr. Foster and imaging every few months to ensure her cancer remains in remission.
“As I’ve told everyone, Texas Children’s is the best pediatric hospital in the world,” Jamal said. “We’re so lucky to live in Houston with this renowned children’s hospital essentially in our back yard. Other families fly from all across the world to access the expertise, technology and exceptional treatment provided right here in our hometown. From the moment of her diagnosis, Brooklyn’s entire care team has taken amazing care of us, the whole family.
“My advice to other parents facing similar diagnoses is just to stay strong,” Jamal said. “I’d also tell them how I believe that my own prayers — as well as those of our friends and family — have made a tremendous difference in our successful journey. I believe that, despite all the adversity, God was able to keep me strong. He kept me together so I was able to take care of her.”
He continued: “Would I recommend Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center to other parents facing scary pediatric cancer diagnoses? My answer is: Every single time.”