One of the two charities that we are working with in the Monsterpalooza Charity Auction is the Sophia Bijou Fund. When John Davis at Poster Mountain told us about Sophia, we immediately wanted to do something to help. So we reached out to Mathias Valdez, Sophia’s dad. Many of our consignors have generously committed to donating either a portion or all of their consignment proceeds to Sophia’s Fund.
We have asked Mathias to write a letter, talking about Sophia and her courageous fight. This is his letter:
“Sophie, up until now, was one of the most rambunctious and playful kids I have ever met. She loved going to the park, coloring, going for walks. All of that stuff. She never was much of a fan of movies or TV aside from ‘her shows’ which consisted of PBS morning kids programming… a daily ritual. She was never a sick kid, and even when she did have a cold or any illness, she never let it keep her down. Still running, jumping on the bed, still playing and going 100 miles per hour.
On the weekend of October 20th 2012, Sophie started complaining of pain in her jaw. She explained it to us as her face hurting. We thought she might have a headache or possibly be coming down with an ear infection. Although neither of those things had ever happened to her.
Of course, your kids always get sick on the weekends, or after doctor’s normal hours, so we decided to wait it out until Monday and make her an appointment if it persisted. It did. Saturday she developed a fever and was still in pain. We suppressed the symptoms with the usual Tylenol or ibuprofen dosage. It helped for the time being, but by Sunday she was in real and terrible pain. She had stopped eating (she loved eating) because of her face pain, which by then we understood was in her jaw. So we decided a trip to the ER was in order. She had never been.
We arrived at the ER about 9 or 10 Sunday night. One of the first things they decided to do was draw labs. Blood. The nurses were nice and helpful, but terrible at drawing blood from a toddler. She was poked upwards of 5 times and had one blown vein before they got a good draw. This was traumatic for her as she had never had anything like this happen to her. But she liked seeing the blood.
The nurse would come back about midnight to tell me that they couldn’t find anything wrong with her. But her labs were of some concern and she wanted to send us home and follow up with our pediatrician in the morning. This was a red flag. I asked what was concerning about the labs, and she said it could be a number of things. One being Leukemia, but not to worry about that yet. So the next day, 9am sharp, the pediatrician called us and said come in so she could take a look. Another red flag. The doctor said that Leukemia was not a concern to her, she said it was most likely an abscess in Sophia’s jaw that was causing the pain and infection that caused the fever, so she wanted to admit us back to the hospital for a CAT scan and other testing. So we went. Red flag number 3.
By this time we were pretty startled but confident in the doctor’s opinion of the matter, so we went for the tests. She was admitted to our local hospital at about 5pm. And tests were ran. CAT scan, labs, vitals. Then we waited. They drew blood multiple times saying they wanted to double and triple check their findings. And then we were left alone for a long time.
We became increasingly worried as the time passed. By about midnight the nurse came in to tell us our pediatrician was coming in to talk with us. No scheduled kids’ doctor comes in at midnight to ‘talk’ to a family. So the anxiety ensued.. My wife became incredibly worried when she overheard the nurse at the station mention the word oncology on the phone.
You see, my wife lost her mother to breast cancer about 5 months ago. So all of these blood counts and tests were eerily familiar. But our little girl can’t possibly have cancer… Right? No, no way… Something funky, but NOT cancer…
Finally the doctor arrived. She came in the room and closed the door. She sat down and started to explain…
She apologized for not sounding more sincere about our concern in her office. She continued by giving us the news… Or rather dropping a bomb on us.. ‘I believe your daughter has Leukemia,’ She said. ‘The C-scan came back negative. Nothing wrong in her face or jaw.’ She went on to tell us that she has no idea why Sophie’s jaw hurt, but it did lead them to finding the cancer in my little girl, so if not for that, then who knows. She told us they could not officially diagnose her in our hospital so she was going to rush us to Denver in the morning at 9am to Children’s Hospital Colorado for further testing.
As you can imagine, or if you are or have been in a moment like this, tears came in a flood. We could not believe it. How did our little girl go from headache to cancer in 2 days. No, no way. Wrong. Not possible. But it was…
We were taken to CHC by ambulance and the full diagnosis was confirmed by a surgical biopsy. The initial stay in the hospital was about 2 weeks and included 2 more surgeries and multiple chemo infusions, which were all very surreal and foreign to us. But nowadays, we frequent the 7th floor. She usually has chemo treatments about once a week, sometimes twice. She has bi-monthly spinal taps (sometimes less) and is on an awful and constantly changing variety of medications to combat the side effects of chemo and she still has another 2 years of treatments to go.
Given the circumstances she is really taking this well. On her good days she seems like the Soph that we were use to and the bad days, we know, will pass. There is a great success rate with this type of Leukemia and we are more than hopeful that she will reach the 5 year survival.
Everyone has a struggle, this one is ours. All we can do is stay positive, make jokes and enjoy all of the good days. At least when she is done with all of this, she will have confidence and be proud that she beat cancer starting at age 3.
You can follow more of Sophia’s journey at www.smileskillthegerms.wordpress.com
Sophia at the beginning, October 2012.
Sophia at her 4th birthday party last week.