KCAL - RHABDOMYOSARCOMA
Dave Gonzales: It started with severe headaches, and then growing to sensitivity to light. Finally, an MRI revealed that a 10-year-old girl has a malignant brain tumor in an extremely delicate portion of her brain. Now, she and her family are in Los Angeles for a state-of-the-art procedure that they hope will save her life. KCAL 9 's Jay Jackson is live right now in West Hollywood with her story. Jay.
Jay: Well Dave, this is a very brave 10-year-old girl. You know, we talked to her about what she has been going through and she has already undergone chemotherapy. She says the worst part about chemotherapy is that it makes her food taste funny. Well, now she's going to go through this procedure and hopefully, she will never have to have chemotherapy again. Ten-year-old Diana Herrera's' primary goal is to be back with her fourth grade friends by September.
Diana: I'm happy I'm going back to school and everything, so I don't have to miss out a lot.
Jay: But before that can happen, Dr. Hrayr Shahinian will have to remove part of a tumor embedded deep inside of Diana's brain. The goal: to see if cancer cells in the tumor are still active.
Dr. Shahinian: She has a tumor known as rhabdomyosarcoma, which is a cancer and...um...can be lethal.
Jay: Using a fiber-optic guided set of micro-tools called an endoscope, Shahinian will go through Diana's right nostril directly to the tumor to remove the cells. The procedure, which was developed by Shahinian, is a radical departure from traditional brain surgery called a craniotomy, which Shahinian describes as barbaric.
Dr. Shahinian: They would cut around the face and lift the nose and also cut from ear to ear, in order to bring the face down, in order to do this procedure.
Diana: I had real bad pain headaches. And my eye had real bad pain, too.
Jay: With those symptoms, Diana was misdiagnosed with a sinus infection. Then El Paso doctors realized Diana had a tumor. Diana's mother, Elvia, got on the internet and read about Shahinian's program and his procedure that saved the life of another child about a year ago. It didn't take her long to call Shahinian.
Elvia: It has put us through a lot of hard times. But, I think...a...we've seen Diana respond very, very well. She's doing awesome...a...but we know it's still there and needs to come out. It needs to come out and this is why we're here.
Jay: And one benefit of this procedure is they won't be here very long. It'll take about three days for Diana to recover after the operation tomorrow and she could be back home in El Paso by this time next week. Live in West Hollywood. Jay Jackson, KCAL 9 News. Back to the studio.