We are the Torres Family party of 5. Started out as a table for two back in 1995. In 2006 we welcomed our first child Jadon after struggling with almost 8 years of infertility. Shockingly, our daughter Amaris was born just 17 months after our first in the Fall of 2007. In 2008 we suffered a miscarriage before our youngest child Gabriella would come into our family in the Fall of 2009. Gabriella means "God is my strength". Always unafraid, so brave and daring in all she ever did. This proved to be one of the most remarkable and incredible part of our journey.
Gabriella was such a bright and smart baby. She reached her milestones much sooner than our first two did. We considered that such a blessing since we had been told during our pregnancy that she was possibly a Down's syndrome baby. We never expected to face such a ugly monster and that the most terrifying fight her life would come at such an early age.
On March 16, 2015, five year old Gabriella was sent to the hospital for further testing from her pediatrician's office. We took her in because we noticed she was unable to walk straight or balance herself when she stood up. We also noticed she was tilting her head when she would watch TV or try to look and focus at something. The previous week she had complained about having a headache when she woke up in the morning.
Once we arrived at the hospital, we were pretty much fast tracked and taken to the back quickly. After having the initial exam from the ER dr, a CT scan was ordered. A few hours later the neurologist came in to give us some grave news. The scan revealed that our once healthy and normal child who had never before been to the hospital for anything other than a minor fall, had a brain tumor. The tumor was located on the brainstem. There was nothing that could be done to remove it. An MRI the next day confirmed the diagnosis and opened our eyes into the world of pediatric brain cancer. Not only was the tumor on her brainstem but it was diffused, meaning the tumor was intertwined with healthy cells making removal impossible. It was a Diffused Instrinsic Pontine Glioma or DIPG. If you dare Google DIPG, you will find story after story of heartbreak and pain. There are about 250 children diagnosed with this tumor yearly in the U.S. Surgery is not an option. The only option we were given was radiation for about 6 weeks as well as an oral chemo drug which is normally given to adults and the possibility to participate in some ongoing clinical trials which may or may not help her at all.
Gabriella completed 6 weeks of radiation and also took an oral chemo drug concurrently. We were treated at the Children's Hospital of San Antonio. Her first post radiation MRI in June 2015 revealed the tumor had shrunk over 60%.
By mid May Gabriella was walking again and by the end of June and her Make-A-Wish Disney trip, she was running and enjoying the summer. We had an amazing two months. In July we started seeing some symptoms that were concerning to us.
In August an MRI confirmed our fears and her tumor spread into her cerebral spinal fluid. Drs were concerned and worried that she would not survive much longer because symptoms were progressing
pretty quickly. She went through 11 more rounds of radiation to her spine in hopes it would slow down the progression in her cerebral spinal fluid. However, due to the spread, she was longer able to
After 17 days in the hospital, we were back home and things were stable and we adjusted to our new normal. Gabriella started kindergarten on August 24. No new symptoms appeared and she was attending school half days. She loved school and was enjoying life.
We celebrated her 6th birthday on October 24 with a Frozen Christmas Birthday celebration. She turned 6 years old on October 30.
On Friday, November 6, Gabriella woke up having some difficulty breathing. Despite fighting as hard as she could, Gabriella's fight against DIPG was coming to its end. We are thankful that no other symptoms arose other than her breathing difficulties, and sadly she passed away on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 5 am. Her smile will live with us forever and we will remember her especially every time we see a rainbow in the sky.
Here are some links to local news stories of our journey with Gabriella.