At 2-years of age, Malia was diagnosed with an intramedullary astrocytoma, a tumor within her spinal cord. Despite two surgeries within 10 months, surgeons were unable to remove the entire tumor.
Because the tumor cells had so infiltrated the tissues of the spinal cord, full removal would have resulted in neurological damage ranging anywhere from minor sensory loss to major paralysis. Radiation, although the gold standard of treatment came with potentially devastating consequences for a young child. Although, chemotherapy had not proven very effective on this type of tumor, Malia received a 12-month chemo-therapy regimen, prescribed as a measure to temporarily inhibit further growth of the remaining tumor.
Despite the prognosis of likely recurrence, Malia is presently enjoying remission from the tumor. With the exception of MRI scans every six months, life seems quite normal for Malia and her family.
Malia is now 11 years old. She is displaying no symptoms of her disease at this time, so her life is much like that of any other little girl. Malia is a fifth grader. She loves school, all her classmates, and her teachers. She enjoys dancing, singing, reading, and playing basketball.