PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Seminole toddler is staying resilient following a recent brain cancer diagnosis.
Two weeks after Callie Stillwell’s second birthday, scans found a golf ball-sized tumor in her brain.
Her parents, Chelsey and Philip began noticing unusual symptoms before Christmas. They said Callie had a fever and was vomiting frequently.
“Something in my gut told me we need to go back to the ER and get answers,” her mother recalled.
Callie was in and out of the doctor’s office and hospital before an MRI scan found the tumor in her brain. She was diagnosed with Ependymoma, a rare brain cancer on Jan. 6. The next week, she had a craniotomy at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Pete.
“We sat there for what felt like 20 hours and waited to make sure that everything was OK and she came out and she did great,” Chelsey said.
Callie remains in bright spirits as doctors wait for more information about her tumor to get a better idea about her prognosis and upcoming treatment.
“We’re still in the process of working up Callie’s tumor, “ said Dr. Stacie Stapleton, the division chief of oncology and director of pediatric neuro-oncology at All Children’s. “We’re waiting for some of the staging to know if this has spread anywhere.”
Dr. Stapleton said she sees this type of brain tumor in young patients several times a year.
Speaking to WFLA, Stillwell stressed that parents need to be advocates for their children’s health.
“Unfortunately, we just all assume we’re in the season of everybody getting sick and if we didn’t push to go to the ER and get answers, we could have a different outcome,” said Chelsey. “We have to be the voices for the little ones.”
It’s Callie’s resiliency, that keeps her parents going.
“It’s going to take little day-to-day victories is what it’s going take to beat this and the community of help behind us,” said Philip.
Callie will undergo six weeks of radiation treatment at the Orlando Health Cancer Institute in February. Her family is still waiting to find out if she will need chemotherapy next.
If you would like to stay updated on Callie’s journey, her parents are sharing their story on a Facebook page called ‘Keepin up with Callie.’