Following Addi’s Journey
Birthdays are milestones used to measure a life’s journey. On May 26, Addi Ghanes celebrated her third with her aunt, uncle and extended family. This year was especially meaningful because they no longer take birthdays for granted.
In August 2018, Warren and Leanne Masten rushed Addi to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta — Scottish Rite with suspected appendicitis. A few hours later, doctors shattered their world with a diagnosis of cancer and a severe case of cellulitis. She was sedated and put on antibiotics with biopsies, scans and tests scheduled.
“One day, Addi was a happy, healthy and active little girl with NO health issues,” says Aunt Leanne. “The next week was full of tests, biopsies, scans and getting rid of the nasty cellulitis. Then we got the full results, and it was not at all what we had hoped for.”
Addi was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma Stage 4 High Risk cancer in her kidney and adrenal gland that had metastasized to her skull, arms, hips and her lungs. A treatment plan of 18 to 24 months was developed. Chemotherapy and surgery were scheduled followed by stem cell transplants and radiation then immunotherapy. Gone were playdates and preschool.
“This changed our entire world,” Leanne says. “I resigned my executive position, and we embraced doing what had we had to do for Addi. We are doing OK.”
In late February, Addi experienced liver failure. Medical care shifted from treating cancer to saving her liver and allowing it to heal. She spent 17 of 47 hospital days in ICU before a March 26 scan showed Addi was cancer free.
“The liver damage means we cannot follow the normal protocol for neuroblastoma,” Leanne says. “For now, we can’t do the stem cell transplants or immunotherapy. We are consulting with her doctors to see what our next steps will be.”
The next steps include radiation. “Despite Addi being cancer free, neuroblastoma has a 60 to 80 percent chance of recurrence,” Leanne says. So, now Addi is doing 12 rounds of radiation to ensure the cancer is eradicated. And that is where Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities comes in.
“It’s just wonderful to stay here,” Leanne says. “It’s amazing and so convenient to the hospital. Everything is so comfortable. We just love it here. If you have to be here, here is where you want to be.”
The playroom is Addi’s favorite, Leanne says. “She just loves everything and the House dog, Betty Lou.”
“It truly is a home away from home,” Leanne says. “You have all the amenities that you need, including being able to wash your clothes. And, people cook for you.”
Follow Addi’s Journey at facebook.com/addisjourney.