HOUSTON (FOX 26) - It's almost unheard of, a 9-year-old battling ovarian cancer, but a Houston area third grader is doing just that.
According to the CDC, 90 percent of women who get ovarian cancer are over 40, but the majority of ovarian cancers occur in women 60 or older. So, 9-year-old Kaylee Tolleson's ovarian cancer is rare indeed.
“We were quite in shock,” says Kaylee’s dad John Tolleson.
He and his wife Kelly says their daughter went from a thriving third grader to doubling over with stomach pain.
“She'd be hunched over. She'd be crying it hurts it hurts. It really hurts mommy,” explains her mother.
After months of doctor visits, a large tumor, cancer, was found on Kaylee's right ovary.
“About the size of a softball,” explains Kelly.
“We both dropped to the floor,” adds her husband.
“I was like scared because I knew chemo could make you lose hair, sad cause I am losing hair because I liked my long hair,” Kaylee explains.
“This is pretty rare,” adds Texas Children’s Hospital Pediatric Oncologist Dr. Matt Campbell, who says in the unusual occasion a child does get ovarian cancer, it typically occurs in the Germ Cells.
The ovaries are mostly made up of three kinds of cells, epithelial, which cover the outer surface, stromal, which form structural tissue, and germ cells are the ones that produce eggs. Campbell says older women often get ovarian cancer in epithelial and stromal cells and it often spreads to organs.
“Kaylee's type of tumor very rarely spreads to other places,” says Dr. Campbell. “Our surgeons did a great job and were able to remove the whole tumor."
”We had no knowledge that this could even happen to young girls,” says Mr. Tolleson.
Kaylee is getting chemotherapy, but the self-proclaimed "weather nut" has a motto, and it’s written on her mom's t-shirt.
"When life hits you, track the weather,” Kaylee smiles while reading the t-shirt. "I absolutely love the weather."
What's in Kaylee's forecast? That is written on the back of the t-shirt, a 100% chance for "Hope, love, faith, joy and cure."
Each family member spoke with us while wearing a pop of teal, the color of ovarian cancer awareness.
“Purple is cancer survivor. I'm going to be wearing purple after all my chemo,” says Kaylee.
The cancer has spread to Kaylee's abdominal lining, but Dr. Campbell says this type of cancer in kids has a more than 80% cure rate.
“Why did it happen to her? Only God knows that. He chose her and He’s going to heal her,” declares Kaylee’s dad.