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Gabby has a great love for animals of all shapes and sizes, but dogs and cats have a special place in her heart. This artsy 15-year-old loves taking photos and making jewelry in her spare time. She can be very stubborn and feisty, which proved to be two crucial characteristics of winning her fight against cancer.
In September 2017, Gabby started experiencing pain in her left leg. Since she had passed both her twin brother and older sister in height over the summer, her mom assumed they were only growing pains. A month passed, and the pain persisted. Their pediatrician sent Gabby for X-rays and called the next day with startling instructions: pack a bag. A team of doctors was waiting for Gabby at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for the next four days. After many tests and biopsies, her diagnosis was official. She had metastatic osteosarcoma.
Gabby had a port placed and started the first of 18 rounds of chemotherapy just three days after her diagnosis. A limb salvage surgery was to follow. The tumor, knee and part of the femur were all replaced with titanium. It took 15 months in a wheelchair before Gabby began walking unassisted again in 2019. She is currently NED, getting monitored every three months.
In two years, Gabby plans on graduating high school and attending college to become a pediatric oncology nurse so she can give others the same care she received at 13. Her mom, Kristi, dreams of a future where her daughter hits the magic five-year mark and remains cancer-free without treatment-related issues. She also hopes to see progress in osteosarcoma treatments, so they no longer affect the quality of life for survivors.
The strength and resilience she has shown at such a young age makes Gabby her family’s hero. Today, she is back in school, holding down a 4.0 GPA, and attending physical therapy twice a week. Her family is incredibly proud of the progress she made, but even more so because she wakes up every day with a smile on her face, grateful for the life she has.
For other families like Gabby’s, Kristi would like to remind them that there are many beautiful moments woven into the hard, messy and ugly ones. She says her daughter’s diagnosis taught her life lessons she would have never known otherwise. “You will live, think and love differently, and be forever changed because of it,” she says. Cancer has completely shifted Kristi’s priorities in life. Now, it has become crystal clear to her what is truly important.
After learning that the treatment Gabby received was 35 years old, her family was happy to know that Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) funds research for new treatments and better cures. With ALSF around, there will always be someone out there fighting for people like Gabby.
Information provided by Kristi Galarneau, Gabby’s mom
Updated July 2020
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