Cleo Keenan, a 2-year-old from the U.K., suffers from a rare cancer called adrenal carcinoma. The condition starts out in either one or both adrenal glands, which are on top of the kidneys. Keenan has stage 3 adrenal carcinoma, and that's caused her stomach to swell to an alarming size.
Keenan's mother Shannon Latham told the Daily Mail that, as the cancer grew, her daughter "looked like she was pregnant." She explains, "I was getting more and more concerned."
At first, doctors mistook Keenan's condition for a hormone imbalance. However, the swelling, which started this year, was correctly diagnosed as adrenal carcinoma after a CT scan gave doctors a look at her adrenal glands. The CT scan was ordered after Keenan was taken to the hospital because of a stomachache.
The 2-year-old started being treated with blood transfusions and chemotherapy after the adrenal carcinoma diagnosis. Keenan's parents have been told that she has, at the most, a 35% chance of surviving her illness, the Daily Mail reports. Their daughter's tumor will likely grow back after the necessary removal procedure, scheduled for later this year.
"It was such a shock when we found out. It's just begun to sink in because she's so young and she's such a bright child. She had always been absolutely healthy," Latham told the Daily Mail about her daughter's illness.
She also spoke about the difficulties that came with her daughter's chemotherapy treatment. "On April 2, she started chemotherapy, and she was on that for four days. It was draining. The chemo started making her ill, and she's had to have a blood transfusion and injections of so many different medications. She's gone from being a normal, happy child to a really poorly little thing, and it's really difficult to see," she told the Daily Mail.
"We are shrinking the tumor with chemotherapy at the moment, and once it's small enough they're going to remove it. There's an 80% chance of it recurring, but that means there's a 20% chance it won't," Latham said. Doctors are worried the tumor might rupture, according to a Facebook page tracking Keenan's progress. Keenan's tumor is "bigger than a grapefruit" according to the PayPal page set up to raise funds for her family.
Doctors remove adrenal cancer surgically by performing what's called an adrenalectomy. "If surgeons find evidence that cancer has spread to nearby structures, such as the liver or kidney, parts or all of those organs might also be removed during the operation," according to the Mayo Clinic.
Additionally, the organization says that a drug called mitotane might be prescribed after the operation to try to decrease the chances of the cancer returning. Radiation can be used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.
Symptoms of adrenal cancer include weight gain, stretch marks, muscle weakness, vomiting, nausea, abdominal bloating, fever, back pain, unintentional weight loss, and loss of appetite. Hormonal changes can also occur, and these could cause women to experience hair loss, excess facial hair, and irregular periods.
Latham told the Daily Mail her daughter has remained happy throughout this stressful time. "Cleo is still smiling through every single day. She still laughs and jokes," Latham said. "She's a little warrior."