Giving a small child a haircut can be an uphill battle. I remember when I was a kid, I’d throw a temper tantrum before every single one. Yet, for Al and Erin Harris of Olathe, Kansas, their 4-year-old daughter receiving a haircut is a dream come true!
It all started in July of 2016. The Harrises noticed blood coming out of little Teig’s ear while they were shopping at The Home Depot. They sent Teig in to see a specialist, assuming all she needed was a short routine ear-cleaning procedure. Yet, minutes later, they were met with the truth.
“The procedure was supposed to take 30 minutes, but just six minutes later, they came to get us,” Al Harris told TODAY. “My wife, who is an emergency room nurse, knew it was a bad sign. And when we got in there, there were two doctors waiting for us. That was a really bad sign.”
2-year-old Teig was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
I took this pic the day after her diagnosis but before we knew the cancer hadn't spread, she was frequently crying in…
They soon learned that Teig had rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that affects connective tissue. It had affected the entire left side of Teig’s face, lodged inside her jaw muscles and cheekbone, and worked its way up into her nasal cavity and ear, stopping just a 1 millimeter short of her brain.
They headed straight for Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City for immediate, intense radiation and chemotherapy treatment to shrink back the cancer.
“It’s pretty hard to watch your child go through that,” Harris said. “I remember when her hair started falling out [because of the] chemotherapy. No matter how much I read, no matter how much I prepared, I wasn’t ready to watch her eyebrows fall out.”
Teig underwent intense chemotherapy treatment, which caused all her hair to fall out.
One of teig's meds gives her insomnia… Poor girl is so tired… But ends up weeping in bed… We sit up and watch a movie…
Even with the chemo treatment being a success, there’s still a 45 percent chance Teig’s cancer will return in a new form. Beyond that, though, the side effects of radiation were rough on Teig, doing what Harris described as “massive damage.”
“Her back teeth were rotted away by radiation, and those were permanent teeth, so we put in caps,” he said. “It also killed her cheekbone, so we have to decide how much asymmetry is okay versus how many surgeries are we going to have to put her through.
“Her pituitary gland was also damaged, which affects her growth. We have to decide how much do we want her to grow versus how much plastic surgery do we want to put her through?”
Six months after her last chemo session, though, 4-year-old Teig has been declared cancer-free and is looking much better.
Not only did her hair grow back, it grew enough to warrant cutting.
Jingle bells remix! Teig sings it her own way, like 40 times in a row, I love it! I get a little down when I'm working and don't get to spend much time with the kids, so I kind of needed this today. I hope this video can #bringthehappy to anyone else who's struggling. #onebeautifulthing #childhoodcancer #rhabdomyosarcoma
Posted by Teig's Cancer Support on Monday, December 4, 2017
Al and Erin were pleased as punch to be able to take their daughter to a hairdresser in January, but couldn’t help thinking back to the what had happened over the last two years.
“It’s a mixed feeling,” Harris said of watching the haircut. “We’re happy because she’s happy and she’s recovered … but it brings back a lot of bad memories.”
“I frequently think, ‘What if this is the last year?’ And even as I’m watching the haircut, in the back of my mind, the thoughts linger. It’s a thing that clouds over you.”
Off to a rough start. Port one wouldn't backflow so we had to stick her a second time so both ports are now accessed. Now we wait for sedation.