Like many parents, San Antonio residents Richard and Heather Delaney almost skipped their daughter Kylie’s annual checkup. The 8-year-old seemed healthy and wasn’t due for immunizations. But Heather decidedto keep the appointment, anyway.
“Looking back, I’m so glad I did,” she says.
During Kylie’s checkup, the pediatrician noticed an unusual mass in the girl’s middle ear and referred her to a nearby hospital for further testing.
The result? Kylie was diagnosed with a rare, noncancerous bone tumor called an osteoblastoma. These tumors usually develop in the bones of the spine, legs, hands and feet. But Kylie’s tumor was located in her temporal bone, which encloses the ear.
“Only 35 cases of this tumor type have ever been documented, and Kylie is one of the youngest patients ever,” says Paul Gidley, M.D., a neurotologist and skull base tumor surgeon at MD Anderson.
The Delaneys, doctors themselves, selected Gidley to perform their daughter’s surgery.
“After speaking with the skull base tumor experts at MD Anderson, we knew this was the place for Kylie,” Heather says. “And, when we came to stay in the MD Anderson Rotary House Hotel, everyone was so nice – it just felt right.”
“Plus, it was so close to San Antonio, which made it very convenient for us,” adds Richard.
Before surgery, the couple met with Gidley and neurosurgeon Franco DeMonte, M.D., co-director of the Skull Base Tumor Program. The doctors would work together to remove the portion of the tumor near Kylie’s brain.
“They were thorough, knowledgeable and answered all of our questions,” Richard says. “As a physician, I really appreciated that.”
Before surgery, Heather shaved Kylie’s favorite stuffed animal – a kitten – to match Kylie’s pre-surgical haircut. Gidley and DeMonte successfully removed Kylie’s entire tumor, and the only remnant of her disease is mild hearing loss.
“I’m so grateful we took Kylie for her checkup,” says her mom. “If we had waited one more year, the tumor could have grown into her brain.”
Gidley also points to the important role Kylie’s annual exam played in the discovery of her tumor.
“The fact that her pediatrician completed a thorough checkup and recognized the abnormality makes her the hero in this story,” Gidley says.