“Absolutely perfect” is how Halle Krawczyk’s mom Carolyn describes her daughter’s surgeries in Pittsburgh.
“Basically, they’ve gone better than expected and we are very hopeful.”
Halle, daughter of Carolyn and Matt, and sister to Hunter, had surgeries on Jan. 20 and 22 to remove a tumour on two upper vertebrae and the clivus behind the nose. Halle has a rare cancer called ‘poorly differentiated chordoma.’
She and her family travelled to the United States in early January to quarantine and await surgery by a world-renowned doctor and his team in Pittsburgh who are best qualified to perform the rare pediatric surgery.
Carolyn said the doctors believe they got all the tumour in the two surgeries.
On Monday, Jan. 25, Halle was permitted to try and walk the ward. She hasn’t needed a feeding tube and can eat on her own. Her nerves are intact, she didn’t lose the use of her tongue or swallowing and she isn’t having problems with vision.
Carolyn said Halle is in a neck brace as the doctors removed the right side of most of the C1 and C2 vertebrae because they were so eroded by the disease.
Halle is a gymnast and doctors said her strength going into the surgery has helped her immensely.
“She’s doing remarkably…,” Carolyn said. “She can even lift her own head now instead of needing nurses to help her sit up.”
Although doctors removed all of the tumour, they couldn’t make clean margins as they normally would in removing cancerous tumours. “Which is why it’s important to get to Boston as soon as she has healed enough in order for proton beam radiation to take care of the remaining cells that are not visible,” Carolyn explained.
She added that Halle is still uncomfortable and on heavy pain control but that’s to be expected with the severity of what she’s just accomplished.
“Halle’s spirit has remained high and she’s handling this like a champ. After surgery 2, while coming out of anesthetic, she whispered, ‘How did I do?’ (I basically told her she championed everything) and she smiled and whispered with eyes barely opened, while waving her hand, ‘Bye bye tumour.’
“She’s remarkable strong, made of pure grit, and determination! She’s quite amazing!”
Halle undergoes a spinal fusion surgery on Tuesday, Jan. 26, what Carolyn describes as her third and hopefully last surgery.
She is grateful for all the people who have been offering their support to her family.
“I’m shocked to be able to say that I truly believe it has been the hundreds of people praying that has made the difference. There were quite a few risks involved. None of them happened.”