NORWOOD, the Bronx – It’s been an incredibly tough journey for a 5-year-old Bronx girl who just left the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore on Monday after three years of cancer treatment.
Djream Gaynor now gets to go home and leave cancer treatment behind. She was cheered on by hospital staff in the hallway as nurses and doctors waved pompoms and noise-makers. She also got to ring the bell – a custom carried out by hospitals across the country once a patient is done with their stay.
Gaynor’s grandmother, Naomi Jimenez, says it was traumatic when they first got the diagnosis.
“She was so tiny,” Jimenez said. “She was only going on two [years old] and it was devastating of course. She’s proven to be a soldier and she’s doing much better now, thank God,” Jimenez said.
After this difficult road, Gaynor is aware of this special day.
“It’s my last treatment!” she proudly said.
Gaynor had a rare tumor in her neck, a malignant rhabdoid tumor which spread to her lungs.
Dr. Alissa Baker is a pediatric oncologist at CHAM and Gaynor’s doctor.
“That put her at an incredibly high-risk category, which is that most of these children actually do not survive,” Dr. Baker said.
After 10 months of chemotherapy, surgery, bone marrow transplant, and radiation, Gaynor became cancer free.
“She did nothing but smile through it all including the monthlong hospital stay that she had for her bone marrow transplant,” Dr. Baker added.
To make sure the cancer did not come back, she’s been undergoing immunotherapy treatments for the last two years. Dr. Baker says this was the first time immunotherapy had been used to treat malignant rhabdoid tumor which she claims could revolutionize the treatment.
Talia Haviv, a senior child life specialist, says during treatment, Gaynor got to do what a toddler does best – play!
“She loves to do lots of painting and art projects,” Haviv said. “She likes to explore and see what I have that’s new and fun and she just likes to be a five-year-old.”
Throughout these last three years, nonprofit organization Little Wishes granted her just that: many little wishes through this long journey, like a doll and winter coat. The group did not let her go on the last day without a few more little, or big, wishes, like a pair of headphones, a play tablet, and a tea set.
When Djream gets older, she says she wants to become a teacher.
“Because you could learn and do some fun activities,” Gaynor added.
Gaynor is looking forward to starting first grade in the fall.