Baby Charlotte came into the world by c-section last July after a perfect pregnancy and without a care in the world. But at doctors’ rounds the next morning, a doctor felt something hard in Charlotte’s tummy. At first they thought it was because she hadn’t pooped yet, but when it was there the next day, they booked Charlotte for an ultrasound. What that scan showed was that this one day old baby had a mass the size of a navel orange in her tummy. It wasn’t clear what the mass was but the new family was prepared that it would be cancer. They were devastated as they packed up and prepared to make the move to the Alberta Children’s Hospital, Meethey’d get to the bottom of what this mass was and what would be done to treat it. After the gamut of scans and tests, surgical and cancer specialists at ACH narrowed it down to three possibilities: A Wilm’s tumour (essentially a water balloon full of cancer), Neuroblastoma (cancerous tumour) or a Nephroma (a rare non-cancerous tumour on the kidney). So at just a few weeks old, Charlotte went for surgery, where Dr. Paul Beaudry could see that it was the Nephroma which was the best case scenario. Unfortunately, the kidney would have to be removed as well, but Camille and Colter were thrilled with this diagnosis and thought the kidney was a small price to pay for their daughter not having cancer. Charlotte was home two days after her surgery and hasn’t looked back.
Charlotte’s story is a perfect example of why the latest surgical retractor system is needed. Dr. Beaudry didn’t know which type of tumour he’d be removing until he saw it in surgery that day. He had to be prepared that it could be a Wilm’s tumour, and if that’s the case, it has to be removed very carefully, placed in a plastic bag inside the body and then removed, because if it’s nicked and the liquid is spilled, that’s cancer spilling – and that could be the difference between a child having to have chemo or not. Thankfully, Charlotte’s mass was the best possible outcome they could have hoped for.