Ladera Ranch teen trying new strategies in her miraculous cancer fight

After four surgeries, six kinds of chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, 12 radiation treatments and antibody treatments, Katie Hawley beat cancer. Twice.

Katie, then 9, learned she had cancer in 2009, when doctors found an-egg sized, stage 3 tumor in her stomach, the cause of her pain and nausea. The rare tumor strikes fewer than five out of every 1 million children each year, according to the National Institute of Health.

In my heart, I hoped and believed she would beat this and live to 100, said Mary Kay Hawley, Katies mom. Yet, that quiet voice would whisper the nightmarish words, She may not make it to her 10th birthday. With that I became her court jester I wanted to give her the world.

After she endured a yearlong battle with ganglio neuroblastoma, doctors found no evidence of cancer cells left in her body. For more than two years, the Ladera Ranch girl lived like a normal kid again aside from scans every three months.

Until the day before Valentines Day last year, when one of her routine CT scans showed the cancer had returned with a vengeance, spreading to her skull, hips and legs.

I was terrified that I was going to lose her, Hawley said. She fell to her knees and begged God to spare her daughter. I prayed until I had peace.

Katie, now a freshman at San Juan Hills High, was sent to undergo an experimental, strong chemotherapy treatment in San Francisco. She had a 33 percent chance of improvement, 33 percent chance the disease would stay the same and 33 percent chance it would get worse. There was a 1 percent chance the treatment would kill the cancer cells, Hawley said.

Katie turned out to be the 1 percent and had a scan clear of cancer in June last year.

KEEPING THE CANCER AT BAY

To stop the cancer from returning, Katie was put on an aggressive, 10-month, in-home chemotherapy with Accutane treatments, making her extremely sick, tired and depressed, Hawley said. She took 14 pills a day, went to the hospital twice a week for blood tests and checkups and continued with CT scans every three months to check that the cancer hadnt returned.

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Ladera Ranch teen trying new strategies in her miraculous cancer fight

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