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Zoe is a 21-year-old college student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in sociology. She’s endlessly positive, determined and courageous no matter what. She provided strength when her mom had little throughout Zoe’s fight with a rare form of astrocytoma, a brain tumor.
The diagnosis emerged after a difficult soccer match, one of Zoe’s favorite sports. Zoe had been having seizures for several months, but the doctors were unsure what could be causing them. During that soccer match, she had another seizure and lost consciousness on the field. She was sent away in an ambulance and her mother insisted they go to the Children’s Hospital in Montreal to finally determine the cause. Finally, they discovered the tumor.
Doctors performed successful surgery, saying that she wouldn’t need any further treatment, but six months later the cancer returned, even larger this time. During the second surgery, an artery compressed and she was left paralyzed on her left side. Their world felt upside down when she emerged in a wheelchair and blind in her left eye.
She started physical therapy and never wanted to stop throughout each session. She persisted every day, fighting through radiation therapy, physical therapy and ergo therapy on a daily basis. Meanwhile Zoe continued her chemotherapy treatment despite facing an immense amount of side effects, for 22 months. At that point, Zoe made the decision to stop treatment because it was so difficult. Her cancer remained stable for two years until November 2013.
The only nearby option available to them were targeted radiation therapies that could have caused mental side effects, so their family went to Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City for additional opinions. They told them about a clinical trial opening in Toronto that Zoe may qualify for. Zoe got in and miraculously, two months after it started the tumor had shrunk by 80%. Her mother, Julie, was astounded.
Zoe remained her calm and collected self, but this represented a new chance at life for her. She got into college and is no longer paralyzed on her left side while she continues occasional treatments and physical therapy.
Her family had never heard of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation until their social worker at SickKids in Toronto. Now, they’re so appreciative of the Foundation’s support for research like the trial that saved her daughter’s life.
Information provided by Julie Trahan, Zoe’s mom
Updated September 2017
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