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Parker's Journey

Quick to make friends and not one to shy away from adventure, Parker was the most excited of her two siblings to make the move from North Carolina to Utah in the summer of 2020. But only a few hours after arriving at her new hometown of Park City, Parker found herself being directed to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City - this would mark her first of countless hospital visits and stays. 

After a series of misdiagnoses and with symptoms worsening, Parker was admitted to the hospital in late June 2020 where she underwent a battery of tests and imagining that eventually located a mass in her abdomen. In July, Parker underwent her first surgery, a resection to remove the mass that would eventually be termed ‘a low grade undifferientiated unclassified spindle cell sarcoma of the jejunum’ or simply Parker’s cancer. A second surgery occurred in August to further improve the margins around the initial site. It was the collective hope of everyone that surgery alone would prove sufficient to cure Parker. 

An MRI post her second surgery occurred in November and detected a small mass in the abdominal region, but a different location from the first. In January 2021, a scan confirmed significant growth as well as additional tumors located in Parker’s abdomen. Parker underwent her third surgery to remove and debulk the masses. Subsequent pathology reclassified her cancer as  having the traits of ‘infantile fibrosarcoma’. 

Based on the new and different pathology results, Parker was put on a targeted treatment, a MEK inhibitor, which was initially successful, but eventually deemed a failure – this would become a theme in Parker’s cancer’s response to medicine. 

Parker began chemotherapy in May 2021 with a regiment of dactinomycin & vincristine. Although the tumors shrunk as a result of the treatment there was concern among the teams working with her that the response was insufficient and she was potentially at risk of reoccurrence or spread within her pelvis, abdomen or mid-section. The concerns prompted the pivot to the far more toxic ifosfamide and doxorubicin.  

Over the course of the summer of 2021, Parker completed multiple cycles of ifosfamide and doxorubicin. By August, imagining showed two of the tumors had responded to chemotherapy, but that two areas were enlarging and increasingly PET avid. 

In September 2021, Parker had aggressive surgery to remove the diseased areas. Post recovery, she spent over a month in New York City undergoing whole abdomen radiation at Memorial Sloan Kettering. 

Parker's first scan of 2022 occurred in January and showed no signs of visible disease or tumors. However, just over a month later, the imagery would show multiple masses all measuring greater than 5CMs and all demonstrating aggressive growth rates. 

The strongest radiation therapy, the most potent chemotherapy, and multiple aggressive and invasive surgeries had failed to keep Parker’s cancer at bay. Both options and time were running out. Parker and family clung to what semblance of hope they could find, and Parker went through one last ditch chemotherapy regime. Like the previous treatments, the initial response was encouraging, but the positive results were short-lived, and her cancer progressed unabated. 

Alternative modalities were thoroughly explored, doctors and scientists across the planet were consulted, but without a viable treatment, Parker’s cancer and symptoms began to take hold. She returned to the hospital in April 2022, and the focus shifted from treatment to comfort and palliative care. 

Parker spent the last month of her life in the same hospital where her journey with cancer began. She passed away on May 24, 2022, three weeks after her 11th birthday. 

 

Little p Project is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID number is 88-2539807.

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