Our lives were changed forever on October 20, 2014 when a doctor at Children’s of Alabama told us Grace had a mass on her kidney. Throughout the year we experienced the extreme ups and downs of having a child with cancer. While the initial diagnosis was terrifying, when Grace relapsed on therapy we had to face the reality that our child’s chances of survival had dropped. Grace is battling back and currently has clear scans and for that we are so grateful.
We consider ourselves lucky, we have seen so many families go through this who haven’t been so fortunate. For that reason we have vowed to fight for them and for children who have yet to be diagnosed.
The Developmental Therapeutics Program at the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer was developed to offer new treatments and further hope to children with the most resistant forms of cancer. We have been so impressed with their work and the doctors that cared for Grace; that Charles and I want to help them raise the funds they need to find a cure. We have committed to raise $1 million for the Center, earmarked for the Developmental Therapeutics Program. In 5 years they will tell us Grace is cured and we hope by then we will have met this goal.
We are encouraged by the amazing progress that has been made against many forms of childhood cancer, but it is clear there is work to be done. Your donation in honor of Amazing Grace will help:
• Recruit nationally for Center leadership positions;
• Support and grow faculty and staff; and
• Continue to fund research and new therapies for the most difficult forms of childhood cancer.
We hope you will join us in this battle. We can make a real difference in the lives of the many children diagnosed with cancer each year. Doctors are working to cure cancer in our backyard and we need to help make this happen!
Thank you for your help.
The Bittick Family
Four year old Grace Bittick of Mountain Brook knows just how to rock her pink cowboy boots. Her mom, Mimi Bittick, says she has a ton of sass, and her signature look is pink, pink, pink all the time.
In September of 2014, Mimi and Charles Bittick’s spunky little girl started to seem lethargic and was not well. After about 6 weeks with various symptoms and many visits to her pediatrician, Grace woke up her parents up in the middle of the night with a terrible stomach ache.
The next morning her pediatrician sent her to Children’s South for an ultrasound. A radiologist broke the news: Grace had a mass in her abdomen that was too complicated to be benign. The Bittick’s went immediately to Children’s of Alabama. Mimi says it was the most surreal before and after moment she had ever experienced... I knew our lives had just shifted forever.
A biopsy was performed, and within days there was a diagnosis: Stage III Wilms’ Tumor. Wilms Tumor is the most common pediatric cancer of the kidneys. In a Stage III diagnosis, cancer has not spread beyond the abdomen, but cannot be completely removed by surgery; about 23 percent of Wilms’ Tumor are found in Stage III.
The team of specialists at the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Alabama explained Grace’s treatment plan to her parents. Grace initially had 10 rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor. And on December 12th surgery was performed to remove the tumor and her kidney; followed by 6 days of radiation. Grace spent many nights in the hospital and completed radiation on December 24, just in time to spend Christmas with her family.
At the end of April, 2015 Grace about to complete her chemotherapy and her parents were hopeful for a full recovery. Unfortunately, on the day that was to be her last chemo the cancer was discovered again in her liver. This was an unexpected set-up, but thanks to the intense treatment plan designed by her doctors, her scans are once again clear. “The relapse was very scary and the treatment she received was much more intense. The nurses, doctors, child life specialist and volunteers made our time on the 8th floor of Children’s bearable and often fun for Grace!”
When Grace was first diagnosed, Mimi and Charles researched the best place for her. We would have gone anywhere but we realized the best place for our family was in our own back yard. Having Children’s so close helped us maintain some normalcy, and that was very comforting to us and both of our daughters.
The Bittick’s are so grateful for the team they have worked with at Children’s. The doctor’s have been honest and supportive of them and have made Grace feel loved and protected.