Young girl sees possible light at end of cancer battle

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By Eric Pereira 

  • Addi’s next battle is to fight the reoccurrence of her neuroblastoma.
    Addi’s next battle is to fight the reoccurrence of her neuroblastoma.
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   Addi Masten, 3, has been enduring a lengthy battle with stage 4 neuroblastoma since 2018. But she appears to be on the tail end which now requires extensive travel across the east coast. 

   Following her chemotherapy, the plan in Atlanta was to do two stem cell transplants and six months of immunotherapy. But things changed after she experienced liver failure.

   “We were not given much hope that she would live,” said her mother Leanne Masten. But Sunday marked a year since that day and she now is growing her hair back and appears to have much more energy. 

   In addition to that, Addi will have had no evidence of disease for a year on March 22. However, this does not mean the battle is over. 

   “This cancer has such a huge reoccurrence rate, especially at stage 4.” Leanne said.  

   With few options left, the family had to look to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York for treatment.

   Addi was doing HU3F8 (antibody) treatments which started in August 2019. She was supposed to get 5-7 cycles of this but doctors had to stop treatment because basically her body was rejecting the treatment.

   So with no other options, the treatment Addi is doing now is called a vaccine trial study. This was also chosen because Leanne said it would not cause any side effects to Addi’s liver. 

   “The aim of the vaccine is to trigger a response of the immune system against neuroblastoma by causing the patient’s body to make antibodies against these markers which would, in turn, cause white blood cells to find and attack the cancer cells,” according to MSK’s website. 

   “It is for children who basically have no evidence of disease so she qualified for that,” Leanne said. Although the injections are said to feel like hot lava going in, Addi has been fighting to stay cool and calm. 

   “She rebounds so quickly [and] she’s doing well. There’s very few side effects, low grade fever and of course pain, which is normal to have,” Leanne said. 

   However, another challenge now is that she experienced significant hearing loss due to her chemotherapy in 2018 and will have to wear hearing aids. 

   In regard to the vaccine study, There are eight treatments over a year period. Just like the chicken pox, a small amount of cancer cells are injected back into her body to teach her body to fight those cancer cells off.

   During this treatment period, Addi will still visit her hepatologist to make sure the treatments aren’t affecting her liver.

   “Most of these people don’t even know who Addi is but they’ve been supportive in helping us through this,” Leanne said who had to quit her job to take care of Addi full time. If you would like to contribute to Addi’s travel fund visit www.gofundme.com and search for Addi’s Cancer Fund.