Chicago, Illinois. This year has changed so many lives. For Amber, a new diagnosis has compounded the challenges she’s faced during a global pandemic.
She has paraganglioma, a “rare tumor growing from the carotid area of her neck, behind her ear, up into her brain,” according to her GoFundMe page.
According to the National Cancer Institute, these tumors are exceedingly rare, only impacting around 2 in 1 million people. Those patients are also typically between the ages of 30-50 years old.
Under the heading “rare endocrine tumors,” NCI describes these tumors typically developing close to “certain nerves and blood vessels outside of the adrenal glands,” which sit above the kidneys and create and regulate hormones.
In 30-50% of cases, this cancer spreads out from the adrenal glands, throughout the body, and beyond the peripheral nervous system (which excludes the brain and spinal cord). That is what happened in Amber’s case.
After her diagnosis—followed by seemingly-endless testing and an 11-hour surgery—doctors removed her tumor and inserted a feeding tube.
GoFundMe; pictured above is Amber
Over the following months, Amber had to relearn basic tasks she’d mastered in childhood: eating, talking, swallowing, and more.
It’s now been two months since Amber’s surgery, and her family is thrilled to see the progress she has achieved.