9OYS Health Watch
"God's little angel" fighting for dear life
Reporter: Steve Nuñez
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - One day after opening her Christmas presents, doctors diagnosed little Hailey Reyes with a rare form of cancer. The good news? Hailey is beating the odds. However, Hailey's treatment is a long ways from being over. And, while doctors are learning more about her cancer, through her battle, it's Hailey who is teaching her parents how to stay strong.
Hailey, just two years old, has already spent four months of her young life fighting for dear life at children's hospital in Phoenix.
Hailey's parents, Abraham Reyes and Ashley Dawson, said their daughter's sickness started with flu-like symptoms.
"She just started throwing up," said Ashley. "We thought it was something very benign."
Doctors didn't find anything wrong with Hailey.
"Blood work came back fine," said Abraham as Hailey sat on his lap staring straight ahead.
"Everything came back fine," said Ashley. "She was just real lethargic."
But Hailey got sicker and sicker.
A week later, they took her back in for a second check-up. This time, her extreme vomiting, nausea and some weakness on her left side pointed doctors to test her brain.
"Never in a million years would we thought we took her in for stomach flu and found out she has a full blown brain tumor," said Ashley in disbelief.
Hailey's cancer, Pilomyxoid Astrocytoma, attacks the stem also known as the heart of the brain.
It's so rare, only about 600 cases are diagnosed each year.
"It is scary because there is no research behind it," said Ashley.
Doctors were only able to remove 95% of Hailey's tumor.
However, the cancer has a high rate of re-occuring. That's why Abraham and Ashley want other parents to know about it so they can tell doctors what to look for in case their child suffers the same symptoms that may also go undetected at first.
"I would trade her places any day," said Ashley. "I would do anything to take the pain away from her. It's very hard as a parent."
"All we can do is watch and try to help," said Abraham. "Make her feel better."
While interviewing her parents, 9 On Your Side Reporter Steve Nuñez observed Hailey reach over and hold her mother's hand. She remained staring straight ahead. But it was obvious, Hailey could feel the emotional pain in her mother's voice.
Nuñez asked Ashley and Abraham is they draw their strength from Hailey bravery and courage.
"Yeah she is," said Abraham.
"Very much so," said Ashley. "Very much."
Ashley moved to Phoenix so Hailey can be close to her doctors.
On top of five doctors appointments, Hailey also receives chemo-therapy once per week.
To help Abraham and Ashley with living expenses, family and friends are holding a benefit dance Friday, 6/22, night at the F.O.E. Eagles Lodge, 1530 N Stone Avenue, from 8p to midnight. The cover charge is $8.