A mother has shared heartbreaking photographs of her daughter undergoing treatment after being diagnosed with a rare cancer – as they celebrate her fifth year in remission.
Sophia Soto, now six, from Florida, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma – a childhood cancer which forms in nerve tissue – at just 14-months-old after tumors were discovered behind her eyes and on her kidney.
One of the emotional photographs shows a young Sophia left in tears as she had a lead put on her chest in preparation for her treatment.
Thankfully, the youngster has been in remission for five years and despite sometimes having questions about her cancer scars, she is overall ‘a pretty happy girl’, according to her mother, Rosie.
Sophia Soto, above, aged 14-months-old, from Florida, is left in tears as she has lead put on her chest in preparation for her cancer treatment in 2014
Sophia, now six, pictured above, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma – a childhood cancer which forms in nerve tissue – at just 14-months-old after tumours were discovered behind her eyes and on her kidney
Thankfully, the youngster has been in remission for five years and despite sometimes having questions about her cancer scars, she is overall ‘a pretty happy girl’, according to her mother, Rosie and father Javier (all pictured together)
The 40-year-old said: ‘The picture of Sophia upset really does home in on the reality of childhood cancer. I look back at the photo now and wonder how I did it. It was so hard watching my little girl be so ill.
‘She was having a lead put on her chest for her treatment – which she didn’t want – hence why Sophia was so upset.’
Rosie became concerned about Sophia after she began developing bruising around her eyes – something she claims doctors repeatedly dismissed as being from a bump or fall.
It wasn’t until Rosie took Sophia to see an eye specialist that they suggested the toddler had tumours behind her eyes which were causing the bruising.
Rosie became concerned about Sophia (pictured during her treatment) after she began developing bruising around her eyes
Rosie took Sophia to see an eye specialist who suggested the toddler (pictured following chemotherapy) had tumours behind her eyes which were causing the bruising
Following her treatment, Sophia (pictured as a toddler) has been in remission since November 2014 and has been medication free for the last two years
Rosie recalled: ‘I kept taking her to the doctors because the bruising wasn’t going away, but they just said it must have been from a bump or something.
WHAT IS NEUROBLASTOMA?
Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that affects children and usually starts in the abdomen.
Around 100 children, who are typically under five, are diagnosed every year in the UK.
The disease affects approximately 800 new children annually in the US.
In around half of cases, neuroblastoma spreads to other parts of the body, particularly the liver and skin.
Neuroblastoma’s cause is unclear. There may be a family-history link.
The main symptom is usually a lump in the abdomen, which may cause swelling, discomfort or pain.
If the disease affects the spinal cord, it can lead to numbness, weakness and loss of movement in the lower part of the body.
Treatment depends on how advanced the cancer is and the risk it will return after therapy.
Surgery, and chemo and radiotherapy, are commonly used.
Source: Cancer Research UK
‘Sophia wasn’t referred for a scan or biopsy until I went to see an eye specialist with her who knew straight away that it was caused by a tumor.
‘She was sent for an MRI where black spots appeared on the scans confirming the tumors behind her eyes.
‘It was then the biopsy which found the tumors on one of her kidneys which led to her Stage 4 neuroblastoma diagnosis.’
After being diagnosed in March 2014, the then 14-month-old endured 60 rounds of chemotherapy, 20 rounds of radiation and a stem cell transplant over a six months period.
Following her treatment, Sophia has been in remission since November 2014 and has been medication free for the last two years.
The six-year-old isn’t yet classified as ‘cancer free’ so still goes for check ups every six months with specialists as tumors remain behind her eyes.
They cannot be removed due to the placement of them, but doctors believe the tumors are benign and therefore not causing Sophia harm.
Rosie added: ‘Doctors are reluctant to remove the tumors Sophia currently has behind her eyes as they’ve said it would be likely that the surgery would disfigure her face.
The six-year-old, pictured with her mother, isn’t yet classified as ‘cancer free’ so still goes for check ups every six months with specialists as tumors remain behind her eyes
Sophia now loves to dance and hopes of becoming a vet one day. The beaming youngster is pictured playing dress-up
Sophia’s tumors cannot be removed due to the placement of them, but doctors believe they are benign and therefore not causing the youngster (pictured at a recent check up) harm
‘Whilst they are tumors, doctors are reasonably confident that they are not cancerous so we have decided to not have the surgery right now, but it may be something she has when she’s older.’
Sophia now loves to dance and hopes of becoming a vet one day.
‘No one can imagine what she went through looking at her now – she just looks like a normal regular child,’ Rosie said.
‘Sophia has her moments when she asks about when she was sick and has questions about her treatment scars, but over all she’s a pretty happy girl.
‘If I was to say anything to other parents with children battling cancer, I’d say to them to not give up, stay positive and keep your faith.
‘We’re over the moon that Sophia is now doing so well – we’re really blessed that she’s such a fighter.’