On March 25, 2010, Colleen and Ryan Tierney welcomed their first child, Chloe, into the world. They were ecstatic. The very next day though, Chloe had a seizure.
A CT scan revealed a bleed in her brain. She was taken by ambulance to Floating Hospital for Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for intensive evaluation. At just nine days old Chloe had her first brain surgery. Carl Heilman, MD, Chief of Neurosurgery, performed Chloe’s surgery and found a Grade 4 Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor (PNET). Chloe had cancer.
During the surgery, doctors removed as much of the tumor as they could. “Because a brain tumor in a newborn is incredibly rare, doctors couldn't offer us any statistics, but they did offer us hope,” recalls Colleen.
After receiving second and third opinions from physicians at different cancer centers in Boston and Maryland, Colleen and Ryan decided to keep Chloe’s care in the compassionate hands of the world-class physicians in the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Floating Hospital. “Having received such exceptional care in the NICU, and the fact that the Neely Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit was small with a low nurse to patient ratio, we chose to stay at Floating Hospital. It was obviously the best decision we have ever made,” recalls Colleen.
It was a long road to restore Chloe to good health. She started her first of five rounds of high dose chemotherapy when she was a month old, followed by a sixth round of transplant chemotherapy before her autologous transplant – a stem cell transplant using Chloe’s own stem cells. At the time, Chloe was the smallest patient Floating Hospital on which this procedure had ever been done.
She required numerous blood and platelet transfusions, many surgeries and was hospitalized for more than 200 days before her first birthday. The Neely Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic and Neely Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit became the Tierney family's home away from home. “Chloe’s team not only took care of Chloe, but took care of our family as well. This team ranges from the cleaning staff all the way through to the neurosurgeons,” explains Colleen.
At 10 months old, Chloe was declared tumor free.
Today, four year old Chloe remains cancer free and is developmentally right on track, eating, walking, talking and making everyone smile with her incredible spirit and personality.
In 2012, when Colleen and Ryan found out Chloe was going to be a big sister, Colleen switched her OB/GYN to Tufts Medical Center. “We didn’t want to be anywhere else especially after having experienced the amazing NICU at Floating Hospital for Children. Thankfully we didn't need the NICU when Charlie was born, but it was great peace of mind knowing we were at our home away from home!” says Colleen.
The Tierneys do all they can to give back, which includes participating in Country Heals, to the place and people they credit with saving their daughter’s life. From the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, the areas that provided Chloe with life-saving, compassionate care, are sustained with philanthropy. Please donate now or join us for Country Heals on September 28, 2014! You are the strength behind our caring.