The name of the tumor found in 3-year-old Laurel Batchelder’s pelvis earlier this year is almost as big as the little girl herself—rhabdomyosarcoma. The disease is one of the cancers classified as “small blue round cell tumors,” because that’s exactly what they look like under a microscope(2011) – For the Batchelders, early 2010 should have been joyous. On February 10, the family welcomed a new addition—a boy named Grant. But just eight days following his birth, the family learned the pain in Laurel’s stomach was being caused by a mass on her pelvis.
“I fully expected we’d go to the emergency room at Texas Children’s and spend a couple of hours getting X-rays and such,” Melissa Batchelder said. “We were there for six hours. They could tell there was a vascular problem, and that it was probably cancer.”
Fortunately for young Laurel, the type of mass she carried is considered highly treatable in children so young.
“We were told it was the ‘best case scenario’ for her age,” Steven Batchelder said. “We were in the ICU when they came by to tell us that, and it was such welcome news.”
Her surgeon was able to excise the tumor in a nine-hour procedure in May. Melissa remembers well Laurel’s first words to her doctor once she awoke from the procedure.
“She told him, ‘Thank you for taking that bump out of my tummy,’” Melissa said. “Out of all the things she could have said, she had enough in her to know that they were there to help her, and to give them the thanks and the credit for what they did for her.”
As one of the byproducts of her illness, Laurel’s hair began to fall out when she began chemotherapy. When that happened, her father willingly had his own scalp shaved.
“I tell people that I’ll stay bald as long as Laurel is bald,” Steven said.
Through it all, the little girl with the big smile only knows that she had a “bad bump” in her tummy, and the bump is now gone, thanks to the doctors and nurses at Texas Children’s Hospital.
“She always talks about how she wants to be a doctor or a nurse and give something back,” Melissa said. “She’s so thankful for the people at Texas Children’s Hospital.”
“Whenever someone asks us what they can do to help us, we always tell them they can support the amazing people at the hospital, and specifically the cancer center there,” Steven said.