Sarah, 8, Teratoma

Long-term Cancer Survivor Helps Others

At just 8-years-old, Sarah Goldberg is already considered a long-term cancer survivor. Sarah began to have trouble feeding immediately following her birth, so doctors inserted a feeding tube into her stomach to make sure she received essential nourishment.  Mom, Robin, noticed that although her baby was eating, she wasn’t gaining weight like a normal infant.

(2006) – The family pediatrician took an x-ray of Sarah’s chest cavity just to make sure that the feeding tube was properly inserted into her stomach.

The x-ray revealed that Sarah had a sizeable mass in her abdominal cavity.  Sarah was immediately sent to Texas Children’s Cancer Center® where she went through a battery of tests.

Doctors determined the mass was teratoma, a cancerous tumor rarely seen in children.

Thankfully, the tumor wasn’t malignant and posed little risk of spreading into other areas of Sarah’s body.

Still, the tumor was so large that doctors needed to surgically extract it from the infant’s tiny body. After a successful surgery to remove the mass, Sarah was cancer free.

But additional challenges lay ahead.

“It’s been a long journey; the tumor was benign, and we were grateful for that, but we still had a long journey after that,” said Robin.

As a toddler, Sarah continued to struggle with eating and digesting enough food to gain weight and grow at a normal rate.

“There were times when my daughter would have only one ounce of fluid and the inside of four Oreo cookies in a single day—that’s it,” she said.  “Needless to say I bought the double stuff cookies the next time.”

If that weren’t enough, Sarah was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 5.  She must wear a back brace 23 hours a day since then.

But Sarah refuses to let her medical issues define her character—in fact, they inspired her to raise funds for the very place that helped her beat cancer, Texas Children’s Cancer Center.

“I bake cookies and sell them to help the kids with cancer, and I donate the money to the kids when I come [to Texas Children’s] for my check-ups,” said the budding philanthropist.  “I’ve been doing this since I was 5, and this year I raised $200 and last year I raised $100.”

Sarah credits her success to mom’s special cookie recipe, and vows to make next year’s cookie fundraiser her best one yet.

Robin couldn’t be more proud of her daughter.

“You can choose to wallow in what you’ve gone through or, what she has shown me, is that you can do something positive with it—make a difference—help other people whose lives have been touched by the same event,” said Robin.

When she’s not baking and raising funds for Texas Children’s, Sarah is busy taking gymnastics classes and playing games with her younger brother, Michael.