AUGUSTA, Kan. (KSNW) — In July 2020, two-year-old Jessie from Augusta complained of stomach aches.
Her parents, Tanner and Annie, started looking for answers by getting an X-ray and sonogram at a Wichita hospital. A pediatrician told them the scans revealed several tumors in their toddler’s liver.
The family was sent to Wesley Medical Center, where they stayed for two weeks. It was determined Jessie had hepatoblastoma and needed a liver transplant. Doctors determined she needed treatment beyond Wichita, specifically, somewhere she could receive chemotherapy and a liver transplant if necessary.
After that determination, the family was headed to St. Jude in Memphis the next day. Tanner drove over 500 miles to meet his wife and daughter, who arrived by medical helicopter.
“As cliché as it sounds, as soon as you walk through the doors, it’s like an overwhelming sense of, ‘Okay, this, this is where we need to be, things are going to go well for us here,'” Tanner tells KSN.
Jessie was eligible for two clinical trials at St. Jude. Within a day, she had already started her first chemo treatment, which continued for a couple of weeks.
In October 2020, Jessie and Annie went to St. Louis to see if Annie could be a living donor for her daughter. While they were there, they got a call that a liver became available for Jessie.
Because of generous donors, Jessie and Tanner will never see a bill for Jessie’s treatment at St. Jude.
“To not have to worry about all of the extras, like the cost, or how you’re going to eat, or how you’re going to provide for yourself and your daughter, there’s just no words to describe that feeling of gratefulness,” Annie said.
Jessie continues to go back to St. Jude every three months for check-ups. Until recently, she was going weekly to Ascension Via Christi – St. Francis for labs. Most recently, her tumor markers all registered as normal, making Jessie cancer-free.
The family refers to her scar from her liver transplant as her “shark bite.”