2018 Honored Patient: Maeve
The story of Maeve is not a new one to those connected with the Pine Tree Apple Tennis Classic. We pick up the story in July of 2017. Maeve and her family were living a blessed life of health and happiness. Then, without warning, a pediatric cancer diagnosis intervenes and life as they knew it took an abrupt turn. Suddenly, life is more complicated.
Maeve was born healthy on April 15, 2017. A sweet, laid back, happy baby, she didn’t show any signs or symptoms of having a lung tumor.
“It was completely incidental that we ever discovered this when we did,” said her mother, Bridget.
Maeve was born with a sacral dimple – an indentation on the lower back. Sacral dimples are common, but Maeve’s seemed a little “deeper.” Dr. Strong, their pediatrician, urged them to have scans and x-rays to rule out a tethered spine. They went to Children’s the next day where a radiologist told them that her spine looked fine, but they did see a large “cystic lesion” in her right lung.
“Dr. Strong asked us to come in and have another x-ray done,” said Bridget. “It was then that we learned the lesion was 2 inches long. Dr. Strong further urged us to meet with a surgeon so we met with Dr. Short from Children’s. He was concerned it was cancer. That thought had not even crossed our minds, so it was hard to comprehend.”
After further testing, the family was told Maeve would need to have immediate surgery to perform a complete lobectomy of the middle lobe in her right lung.
“This is when we met Dr. Kris Ann Schultz, and that’s when Justin and I realized this was a lot more serious than we had thought,” continued Bridget.
On July 18, Maeve underwent surgery and it was later confirmed that she had Pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB) type I.
“I’ll never forget that phone call,” said Bridget. “I felt like the room started spinning, like I was falling down a tunnel and all I kept saying in my head was ‘my child has cancer.’ We all felt it was best to undergo another surgery to remove her entire lobe in case there were any cancer cells left from the first surgery.”
After Maeve’s PPB diagnosis, the family learned about DICER1 and the entire family was tested. Maeve, her brother Liam (almost 3) and her father, Justin, tested positive. In March 2018, Maeve’s second routine post-surgery scan revealed two new tumors in her left lung. Because of their small size, Maeve’s family and doctors feel comfortable monitoring them with routine CT scans and x-rays. Their most recent follow-up scans in late June showed that they have not grown.
Since Liam also has DICER1, he went in for a CT scan on April 10. His scans also found a small tumor in his left lung that will also be monitored with routine scans moving ahead.
The family is thankful for the entire team that has contributed to Maeve’s and Liam’s health. In particular, Dr. Strong at Central Pediatrics for pushing to meet with their surgeon Dr. Short right away.
“She could have easily told us how common a sacral dimple is, that it was nothing to worry about, and left it at that. But she didn’t.”
“Some days are easier than others, but Justin and I remain positive,” said Bridget. “We lean on each other and all of our family and friends around us. Finding Maeve’s tumor when we did is a complete miracle. We constantly remind ourselves of that.”
Pine Tree Apple Orchard has always had a place in Bridget’s life, now more than ever.
“I grew up going to the Pine Tree Apple Orchard every year. It is surreal that the orchard I grew up going to as a child has been so instrumental in raising money for a cancer that now challenges both of my kids. We are fortunate that the registry is based here in Minnesota and we get to work directly with some of the greatest doctors in the world at Children’s!”
There will be challenges ahead for sure. But with their confident resolve, positive approach and the world-class medical and research teams behind them, Maeve, Liam, Bridget and Justin have every reason to smile about the future ahead of them.