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Isabel Rita

  • Ganglioglioma

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Isabel (Izzy) is a 4-year-old firecracker. She’s a happy little girl who is not afraid to assert herself with confidence. She loves music, singing and getting a laugh out of her family.

Izzy was diagnosed with a ganglioglioma, a spinal cord tumor, in September 2014 after her parents noticed stiffness in her neck.

Her parents recall the moment the neurosurgeon’s physician’s assistant entered their hospital room and with tears in his eyes told them that their 12-month-old little girl has a tumor wrapped around her spinal cord. They had just celebrated her first birthday with visions of what may come her second year of life: walking and exploring the world around her like most one-year-olds do. But on that day, when they heard the words, “it’s a tumor,” all those hopes came crashing down and they went into survival mode.

Izzy underwent a 10-hour surgery to relieve some of the pressure the tumor was putting on her delicate spinal cord.  She had 42 chemotherapy treatments that wreaked havoc on her little body, weakening her immune system and causing hair loss, a number of gastrointestinal issues and neuropathy in her extremities. Through it all she always found a way to be a playful and happy little girl.

The surgery and the tumor also left her unable to even sit up on her own and weakness especially on the left side of her body. She began physical and occupational therapies at the same time she began chemo to regain strength and learn how to crawl and walk.

Izzy still has a long road to recovery because the tumor, while stable and not growing, is still in her spinal cord putting pressure on it and making it more difficult for her to walk. But true to her fighting spirit, Isabel took her first independent steps on in January 2016, the day before her last chemo infusion!  Her next step is running—and her family has no doubts she will do it!

Updated May 2018

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