A Brain Tumor Couldn’t Keep Her Down

In early 2015, in the middle of her 5th grade, Lina started suffering from periodic unexplained vomiting and weight loss. It also seemed that she wasn't growing at the same rate as her peers and that she was always tired. By summer she had frequent headaches and the vomiting had become more frequent. In early summer, she was sent to Dr. Sunpreet Kaur, gastroenterologist at UC Davis.

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Early days in Lina’s hospital stay.

Lina was soon diagnosed with gastroparesis (a condition in which your stomach cannot empty itself of food in a normal fashion).

A Tumor Pushes Against Lina's Brain Stem

By the fall of 2015, her symptoms included balance and coordination problems. Dr. Kaur ordered an MRI of her brain which revealed a lemon-sized tumor in her cerebellum. The tumor was pushing against her brain stem, blocking the flow of cerebral spinal fluid, causing hydrocephalus. All along what we thought were gastrointestinal issues turned out to be a brain tumor. In one shocking instant, our lives completely changed. And in that instant, I was so grateful to be at UC Davis Children's Hospital and in the care of all these wonderful specialists.

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After her surgery, Lina gets help maneuvering the hospital halls.

Low-Grade Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma Diagnosis

Dr. Zweinenberg and the team of neurosurgeons successfully removed 100% of Lina's tumor less than 24 hours after it was discovered. The pathology report showed that it was a low-grade juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma; thankfully she did not require additional cancer treatments.

Although the news was good and Lina's prognosis was the best we could have hoped for, Lina had many rough months ahead of her. After the tumor resection, she was left with significant problems with balance and coordination and she was unable to walk without a device. She also had significant memory problems, aphasia, fatigue, and fevers. With the help of the inpatient pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation team, Lina recovered enough to go home after three weeks in the hospital and she had enough strength to walk with assistance up one flight of stairs. The team always kept the mood positive and encouraged Lina to push herself to reach her goals in order to go home.

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So Many People Made So Much Difference

There are so many people we need to thank. At the top of the list, however, are: Dr. Sunpreet Kaur for finding the tumor, Dr. Marike Zweinenberg and her steady hands for removing the tumor, and Dr. Maya Evans and her team for their positive and encouraging in-patient physical rehabilitation.

 

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Our sweet happy, healthy girl today.

UC Davis Children's Hospital Never Stops Caring

We are so grateful to UC Davis Children's Hospital for not only saving Lina's life, but for continuing to provide excellent ongoing care. Lina has an MRI every four months and is seen by a team of specialists who make sure her growth and development are normal. Lina continues to improve every day, and we are confident that she will eventually make a full recovery. Thanks to UC Davis Children's Hospital we now have our goofy, fun-loving, social butterfly back!

— told by Lina’s mom, Allison