We are the Torres Family, party of 5. Started out as a table for two back in 1995. In 2006, we welcomed our first child Jadon after struggling with almost 8 years of infertility. Shockingly, our daughter Amaris was born just 17 months after our first in the Fall of 2007. In 2008 we suffered a miscarriage of our third child. Our youngest child Gabriella would come into our family in the Fall of 2009.
Gabriella was such a bright and smart baby. She reached her milestones much sooner than our first two did. We considered that such a blessing since we had been told during our pregnancy that she was possibly a Down’s syndrome baby. We never expected to face such an ugly monster as DIPG and that the most terrifying fight her life would come at such an early age.
On March 16, 2015, five year old Gabriella was sent to the hospital for further testing from her pediatrician’s office. We took her in because we noticed she was unable to walk straight or balance herself when she stood up. We also noticed she was tilting her head when she would watch TV or try to look and focus at something. The previous week she had complained about having a headache when she woke up in the morning.
Once we arrived at the hospital, we were pretty much fast tracked and taken to the back quickly. After having the initial exam from the ER doctor, a CT scan was ordered. A few hours later the neurologist came in to give us some grave news. The scan revealed that our once healthy and normal child who had never before been to the hospital for anything other than a minor fall, had a brain tumor. The tumor was located on the brainstem. There was nothing that could be done to remove it. An MRI the next day confirmed the diagnosis and opened our eyes into the world of pediatric cancer. Not only was the tumor on her brainstem but it was diffused, meaning the tumor was intertwined with healthy cells making removal impossible. It was a Diffuse Instrinsic Pontine Glioma or DIPG. If you dare Google DIPG, you will find story after story of heartbreak and pain. There are about 250 children diagnosed with this tumor yearly in the United States. Surgery is not an option. The only option we were given was radiation for about 6 weeks as well as an oral chemo drug which is normally given to adults and the possibility to participate in some ongoing clinical trials which may or may not help her at all.
Gabriella completed 6 weeks of radiation and also took an oral chemo drug concurrently. We are currently being treated in San Antonio with our oncologist at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. As of June 2015, the tumor has shrunk over 60%.
As a family, we are strong Christians and believe in the power of prayer and healing miracles. Our family, along with many of our family members and church family are praying and believing that there will be a miraculous healing in Gabriella’s life. We are praying that this tumor continues to shrink and disappear.
Gabriella means “God is my strength.” She is unafraid and so brave and daring in all she does. This has proved to be one of the most remarkable and incredible parts of our journey. We are so proud to see how hard she fights and how great her faith is at only five years old.
We continue to research, read, call, email and do all we can to give her a fighting chance to beat this. The cure for DIPG can’t come soon enough for us. We desperately need more time to find it and pray our baby girl keeps fighting until then.
In August her tumor spread into her cerebral spinal fluid. The doctors were concerned and worried that she would not survive much longer because symptoms were progressing pretty quickly. She went through 11 more rounds of radiation to her spine in hopes it would slow down progression. However, due to the spread, she was no longer able to walk.
Gabriella started kindergarten on August 24, 2015. No new symptoms had appeared, and she was attending school half days. She loved school and was enjoying life. We looked forward to many more great days. She celebrated her 6th birthday on October 30, 2015.
On Friday, November 6, 2015, Gabriella woke up having some difficulty breathing. Despite fighting as hard as she could, Gabriella was not able to win her fight against DIPG. We are thankful that no other symptoms arose other than her breathing difficulties, and sadly she passed away on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 5 am.
Her smile will live with us forever and we will remember her especially every time we see a to rainbow in the sky.
Submitted by Cecilio and Isabel Torres, Gabriella’s Parents.
Learn more about Gabriella:
News 4 San Antonio Story: Raising Funds For 5-Year Old Fighting Brain Cancer
KENS 5 Story: S.A. girl fighting rare form of cancer