Just A Normal Girl
For one eleven-year-old girl, life was as perfect as could be. Not only did she have a wonderful family, but she attended a great school and had amazing friends. Sadly, the idyllic life she was living was about to be shattered…
An Unfortunate Diagnosis
Unknown to the young girl and her parents, an enemy was lurking inside her body and this enemy was about to make itself known. This story is one of heartbreak, faith and accomplishing the unbelievable through hope.
You won’t believe how it ends.
Happy and Healthy
When it comes to humble and happy, Roxli Doss was the textbook definition. An avid fan of horseback riding and living life to its fullest, Roxli brought joy to all of her family and friends. Sadly, that happiness was about to be tested with the greatest trial she’d ever face.
A Downward Turn
It all started when Roxli began to experience severe headaches out of the blue. At first, her parents weren’t immediately concerned. Maybe it was all a natural part of growing up? Roxli was eleven and in the pre-stages of puberty. For all the knew it was a simple hormonal imbalance.
Unfortunately, Roxli’s headaches only got worse, transforming into full-blown migraines. Eventually, the pain became too great and began to impact her daily activities. What could possibly be going on?
Confined to Her Bed
Soon, the healthy and happy Roxli was sickly and bedridden. The pain from her migraines forcing her to abandon school and her horseback riding activities. Realizing things were much worse than they could have imagined, her parents decided to seek medical treatment.
Labs and Tests
The doctors immediately began to run tests and perform blood work on the young girl, hoping to find a diagnosis for her debilitating headaches. After days of testing, they finally reached a conclusion and it was a shocking blow to Roxli’s parents.
Roxli had a very rare brain tumor known as a “Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma” or DIPG for short. It was inoperable and would eventually be fatal. Roxli’s family was stunned. How could this have happened to their happy and healthy little girl?
A Very Rare Tumor
Roxli’s doctor, Dr. Harrod had this to say, “It is very rare, but when we see it, it is a devastating disease,” she said. “You have decreased ability to swallow, sometimes vision loss, decreased ability to talk, eventually difficulty with breathing.”
And without a cure, the prognosis for Roxli was pretty grim
Dr. Harrod suggested that Roxli undergo radiation therapy to help extend her lifespan. Despite the tumor being inoperable, radiation could possibly keep it from growing. Unfortunately, radiation came with its own set of side effects.
Side Effects of Radiation
Roxli’s parents were worried about putting their daughter through such an intensive treatment. Radiation is known to cause fatigue, skin problems, constant nausea, as well as issues with the head and neck. Did they really want to put their child through that?
Turning to God
Being a religious family, they turned to their church community for guidance. Roxli was immediately put on a prayer chain and the family hoped for a miracle. Maybe the power of prayer would be the ultimate cure?
Searching for Other Opinions
The family didn’t want to base their daughter’s future on just one doctor’s opinion. Therefore, they began to seek out other medical professionals for their take on her tumor. They traveled to five different hospitals, hoping against hope that the diagnosis was somehow inaccurate. Unfortunately, they didn’t receive the answers they hoped for.
The Same Conclusion
All five doctors came to the same conclusion. The tumor was very rare and there was no known cure. All they could do was manage Roxli’s treatment and hope to make her comfortable. Realizing their options were limited, the Doss family continued to pray and turned to fundraising options for help with their daughter’s medical treatment.
Turning to Texas
After doing some extensive research, Roxli’s parents traveled to Texas to the Texas Children’s Hospital in Austin. They hoped they might get new opinions on treatment for their daughter. Unfortunately, the news didn’t change.
According to the various doctors, the type of tumor Roxli had was very aggressive. Over a period of time, the tumor would grow and begin to impact her life negatively.
Roxli’s parents didn’t know what to think anymore.
The Effects of the Tumor
The doctors revealed that Roxli would begin to struggle with her heart rate, breathing, and swallowing. Even worse, her eyesight and balance would decline over time as well. What made the situation even more devastating was the life expectancy.
A Short Time
According to medical experts, people with this type of tumor live roughly nine months after diagnosis and only a few of those months would be like normal. However, Roxli was ready to fight. There was no way this tumor was going to take her down.
Aggressive and Deadly
The DIPG tumor is extremely rare and currently affects 200-300 children yearly in the United States. The cancer is found in children between the ages of five to nine; however, Roxli happened to develop her tumor at a much older age. Sadly, the cause of this type of cancer is unknown, making it very hard for doctors to treat.
Why It’s Inoperable
The reason the tumor cannot be removed is due to the placement at the base of the brain and near the top of the spine. The tumor’s location causes it to press on an area of the brain which is responsible for critical bodily functions. These include sleeping, blood pressure and breathing.
Symptoms Come Too Late
For most children diagnosed with DIPG, the symptoms come too late. These include facial weakness and strange limb movements. Most of the time children with this rare cancer don’t live long enough to undergo any type of treatment. Thankfully, Roxli’s case had been caught in time.
Radiation Treatment Begins
The Doss family eventually made the decision to undergo radiation therapy. Since Roxli’s tumor was discovered relatively early, she had a better chance the treatment would work and extend her lifespan. However, it was going to be a tough battle.
Six Days Per Week
Roxli had to be at the hospital for six days per week for a total of six weeks. The hope was that the tumor would react positively to the radiation. According to statistics, radiation therapy shrinks these types of tumors in over 70 percent of patients who undergo treatment.
Roxli’s parents were praying it would be just as successful for her.
Waiting With Baited Breath
Roxli completed her six weeks of radiation and the time came for the doctors to give her an MRI to see if the treatment had worked. Her parents and church prayed for a miracle and when the doctor received the girl’s MRI scans, he was shocked.
An Unbelievable Result
“When I first saw Roxli’s MRI scan, it was actually unbelievable,” said Dr. Harrod. Roxli’s tumor was gone. It had completely vanished like it never had existed. This left the medical team completely dumbfounded. How did the tumor just disappear?
According to medical experts, tumors disappearing is known as spontaneous regression; however, it’s very rare in DIPG tumors. However, according to the University of Bath in the UK, a person’s immune response could play an important role in how well they take to treatment.
Triggers in the Body
One doctor from the UK, Monma Hejmadi believes that the body produces an immune response that triggers against the antigens. This can cause spontaneous regression in certain forms of cancer. In Roxli’s case, it seemed her body attacked the tumor until it was completely eliminated from her body.
Roxli’s case was one for the medical history books. No one had ever seen a case where a DIPG tumor had been completely removed via radiation. Of course, since this type of cancer is so aggressive, Roxli will need follow-up treatments to prevent new cancer cells from growing in the future.
The Power of Immunotherapy
The next step in Roxli’s treatment will involve immunotherapy, which involves redirecting the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer. There has been some success with this type of treatment and doctors hope this will help prevent Roxli’s cancer from coming back.
The Power of Prayer
While the Doss family does not discredit the treatments and hard work of Roxli’s medical team, they do believe that the power of prayer made an impact. “Every day we still say it. It’s kind of our family thing that God healed Roxli.”
As for the future? The family is hopeful that her cancer won’t return. They plan to pray and continue with treatments. We wish Roxli the very best.