Hi, I’m Danielle. I am twelve years old. I love singing and going to church, and I have cancer in my head. I found out a few months ago, after my mom and I went to see the doctor. You see, I was smelling these funny smells and my fingers kept going numb. I told my mom and she didn’t believe me at first but when I started talking all funny she got scared and that’s when we went to the doctor’s. We visited a few different doctors before we met Dr. Edwards and Dr. Siricillo. They put me in this big machine and took pictures of the inside of my head; I think they called it an M-R-I. When they developed the pictures they saw a tumor in my head they said was pushing on my brain. The doctors said it was benign and that I should come back in a couple of years and they would cut it out. My mom wasn’t sure we should wait but she took me home anyways.
On November 21st 1994 Danielle Niki Low, a 12 year old white female, was diagnosed with a grade three cancerous tumor located in her left temporal lobe. It appeared benign and the patient was advised to return for treatment after her 14th birthday at which time an invasive craniotomy would be performed to remove the tumor.
Not long after, I started having seizures (that’s what was making me talk funny and smell things that weren’t there) every day. Everybody kept asking me how I was feeling all the time and I wasn’t allowed to go down the street anymore to play at the park. In fact mom made me stay in the house almost all day. I didn’t know why they were acting like I was going to break or something. I never once was worried about that silly tumor, I knew I had God on my side and he wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me. Mom kept a record of every time I had a seizure and by the end of the month they were happening between 30 to 40 times a day.
Dad didn’t think I should be having so many seizures so he called the hospital, Doctor Edwards and Doctor Siricillo said I should come in right away. When we got to the clinic they made me get another M-R-I. Afterwards things went by really fast. The doctors saw something they didn’t like because they said “it would be too late” if we waited two years to cut the tumor out, they said we should do it A-S-A-P. I don’t know what A-S-A-P means but everybody looked real serious and they scheduled me for surgery the next day.
After the patient’s parents noticed a significant increase in Grand-Mal seizures, around 30-35 a day, the patient was readmitted. Further examination revealed that while the tumor had remained benign, it had begun to grow at an alarming rate. The pressure it was exerting on the left temporal lobe was beginning to threaten the patient’s autonomic brain functions. It was determined then that an immediate craniotomy was needed to remove the tumor, followed by an aggressive chemotherapy regimen.
The next morning I put on this funny robe with nothing in the back and got on a gurney that they rolled into this big room with all these people wearing masks and hats. Everyone was whispering and there were all these big machines beeping and making whizzing sounds. They put a mask on me too, except mine was connected to this big hose. Doctor Edwards told me to take deep breaths and count from ten to one; he said I would be asleep before I got to one. I think I made it to four.
When I woke up my head hurt and I felt all icky inside. I saw my mom and dad talking to the doctor. I tried to talk but I couldn’t move my mouth. The doctor must have said something that made mom sad because she started crying, dad too. I was still really tired so I went back to sleep.
When I woke up again, mom and dad were standing by the bed holding my hand. Their eyes were all red and they didn’t look so good, but they kept smiling and telling me how proud they were of me and that I was the strongest girl in the world. I stayed in the hospital for four days before I got to go home. Mom and dad were there the whole time.
The craniotomy for Danielle Low was performed on December 21st 1994 by Dr. Edwards and Siricillo, the presiding neuro-surgeons. The operation took approximately 8 hours to perform, no major complications occurred during the procedure. Unfortunately not all of the cancerous tissue was removed due to its growth further into the brain tissue than was previously observed. The remaining cancerous cells are untreatable at this time. The patient will not survive longer than 90 days.
When we got home mom covered all the mirrors. When I asked her why, all she would say is, “Don’t worry about it sweetheart, just rest”. I waited until she wasn’t watching and lifted up the paper covering the mirror. I saw a monster staring back at me! Then I realized it was ME I was looking at. My face was all purple and swollen, probably three times as big as normal. I didn’t lift up the paper again.
The patient will experience extreme swelling during the first 20-25 days post op. Bed rest and little activity are recommended. Danielle will also be on a drug cocktail designed to bolster her immune system and control the extreme pain that normally follows an invasive craniotomy.
The next day mom and dad came into my room and said they needed to talk to me about something really important. I sat up in my bed, looking up at both of them. They both had tears in their eyes and mom was holding dad’s hand so tight it turned white. Dad got down on his knees and took my hand in his. What he was about to tell me was going to be the hardest thing he would ever do in his life he said. He took a deep breath and said, “Dani, after the surgery the doctors told your mom and me that they couldn’t get all the cancer out of your head.” He started crying and so did mom, she left the room. Dad squeezed my hand and told me that I was going to go to heaven to be with God and all the angels. After that he gave me a big hug and started crying even harder. Mom came back in and started hugging me too. I was a little confused so I hugged them back and smiled, “Why are you crying?” I asked. “I get to go to heaven!” This only made them cry harder.
The hospital was supposed to call three days after I was released to schedule my chemo-therapy sessions. They never did. Mom called every day ten or twelve times a day. She left message after message for Doctor Edwards and Siricillo. Nobody ever called her back. She and dad went to the hospital and asked to see Doctor Edwards and Siricillo. The nurses said they were busy and would they like to leave their phone number so one of the doctors could call them back. They got really mad but no one would talk to them, so they came home.
The swelling was going to be bad for a few more weeks but since I was feeling better I asked my mom if Leila, my best friend, could come over. She said she wasn’t sure if that was a good idea. I begged and begged and finally, a couple weeks after the surgery, my friend Leila came over to visit me. She came into my room with her mom. I tried to say hello but it came out sounding like a mumble because my lips were so swollen. Leila started to cry and hid her head in her mom’s chest. Her mom took her out of the room and when she came back Leila wasn’t with her. She said Leila wasn’t feeling well, but that she would come back to see me when she was better. I never saw Leila again.
Finally after three weeks the doctors called and said we should all come to the hospital right away; they had good news. When we got to the hospital Doctor Edwards and Siricillo beaming, they explained that they had been running a battery of tests on the removed tumor, and that three days after they had removed it, the tumor had transformed into normal brain tissue. They had sent samples to hospitals all over the country to confirm their results and all of them had come back the same; there was no more cancer, it had just disappeared.
For reasons my colleagues and I have yet to explain the cancerous tissue removed from Danielle Low has, over the course of three days, reverted back to a normal state. All traces of cancerous tissue have disappeared, leaving a sample of perfectly healthy brain matter. Samples were rushed to the oncology departments at Cedars-Sanai of Los Angeles and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Our findings were confirmed by both institutes. No medical explanation has been found to explain the rapid reversion of the cancerous tissue, further study will be needed.
I still have little pieces of “cancer” in my head that the doctors couldn’t remove, but they aren’t dangerous to me in anyway. To this day no one can explain what happened to me. The doctors said it was a one in a billion fluke that the cancer would revert to a normal state. Doctors are always getting confused I think. The answer was obvious to me; it was a miracle.