SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (PIX11) – A little girl’s brilliant smile does nothing to betray the fight she’s waging against an aggressive form of cancer.
But her parents are frantic to get the 4-year-old from Southern California to New York City, where one of the most prestigious cancer treatment centers in the country offers her the best chance of survival.
Desirae Cechin was diagnosed in April with Stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that affects the nerve network that carries messages from the brain throughout the body.
It is usually found in young children and start as solid tumors in the neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis or, most commonly, in the adrenal gland, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.
Despite being in a battle for her life, Cechin’s family said the 4-year-old is “very happy as always,” constantly smiling as she “fights like a princess.”
“I am continuously in pure! Plain and simple AWE of her. Every day… She has grown up and matured so much, her understanding of this disease and her acceptance of it… BLOWS my mind!” her mother Laura Palada wrote in a blog post.
Cechin’s family is desperate to get the little girl to Sloan Kettering, but the hospital is out of her insurance network and the family is facing daunting medical bills.
Palada said she’s received denials from her daughter’s insurance company and is filing appeals, adding that time is of the essence.
Through an online fundraiser and other efforts, more than $40,000 of the $300,000 goal has been raised for Cechin’s life-saving surgery to remove an 11 centimeter by 10 centimeter tumor wrapped around her aorta, the family announced on its YouCaring account.
Cechin’s next treatment is scheduled for June 6 at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Her family hopes to have her in New York City by the end of the month.
Messages to Sloan Kettering and a doctor who specializes in treating neuroblastoma were not returned by the time of publication.