Written by Cathie Pinto, Bridgette's Grammie
Bridgette (Bridgi) was born on April 12, 2009 (Easter Sunday). She just turned 9 years old.
At the end of October, Bridgi was diagnosed with a tumor in or near her pituitary gland following an MRI ordered by her pediatrician. She was quickly referred to one of the best pediatric neurosurgeons in the United States at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Our meeting with Dr. Mark Krieger revealed that the tumor was not only wreaking havoc with Bridgi's pituitary gland and hormones, but it was also encasing her carotid arteries and pressing on her optical nerve. Surgery to remove the tumor was scheduled for November 3rd. It was quite an experience for this 8-year-old, and just as Dr. Krieger predicted, she didn't like anyone for several days following the surgery. Eventually, the packing in her nose/sinus cavity was removed and she slowly regained her strength. On November 7th, Bridgi was discharged from the hospital and on November 8th, we had a three-hour meeting with Bridgi's amazing medical team consisting of a Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Pediatric Neuro-Oncologist, Pediatric Oncology-Endocrinologist, Pediatric Ophthalmologist, Neuro-psychologists and many more.
Bridgette (R) with sister Brielle.
The diagnostic tissue revealed that the tumor is classified as a GERMINOMA. A GERMINOMA is a type of germ cell tumor that is most commonly found in the brain. Usually, germ cells migrate to the gonads during fetal development and become an egg in the female ovaries or sperm in the male testes. However, if these germ cells don't migrate to the correct location, they can become trapped in the brain and multiply in areas where they shouldn't. This type of cancer carries a relatively excellent prognosis, with a cure rate in more than 90% of the cases. Fortunately, this tumor had not yet planted any “seeds” in Bridgi’s spine, which was great news.
From November 20th, 2017 to February 2, 2018, Bridgi underwent four cycles of chemotherapy treatments (3 days on; 3 weeks off; repeat) and then 15 radiation sessions (5 days a week for 3 weeks thereafter). On February 14th, the oncologist showed us the MRI of the brain which revealed the tumor was completely gone!
Yes, Bridgi did lose her hair, which has not fazed her much. It looks like this little towhead is growing in some darker hair, so it will be fun to see what God blesses her with this time around! Other than hair loss and a few fevers (which are always scary and require hospitalization), she maintained a good appetite and had no other bad side effects. At the end of February, she was able to return to school part-time, and upon completing radiation treatment, returned full-time.
There are a multitude of other problems because the tumor affected the pituitary gland, so Bridgi has to be on thyroid medications and hydrocortisone probably for life. Also she developed diabetes insipidus (which is completely different than diabetes types 1 or 2). This causes excessive thirst and urination and the kidneys don’t process the fluid to other areas of the body, instead sending fluids out as clear, odorless urine. Without the water, Bridgi could become dehydrated very quickly (and that's a simplified explanation). Fortunately, Bridgi recognizes her thirst level and drinks plenty of liquid, but she is on medication for that as well.
Bridgette at the Greater Los Angeles Make a Wish Foundation