Lauren: Heptoblastoma


When Lauren was 19 months old, her parents noticed she had a small lump on her rib cage. Her pediatrician sent them to Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., for tests. A biopsy revealed the mass was a malignant tumor — stage 4 heptoblastoma.

Lauren had a seven-inch mass on her liver that was causing the tip of her liver to poke out from under her rib cage — that was the lump they felt. The family was devastated to learn that the cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas. Also, a blood vessel leading to her heart had been damaged by the tumor. Genetic testing revealed that Lauren had Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, a rare condition that causes an overgrowth of cells.

Little Girl, Big Courage

Lauren went through five rounds of chemotherapy, which significantly shrank the tumor and caused the nodules on her lungs to disappear. During a single surgery, a team of Nemours surgeons removed what remained of the tumor, along with a third of her pancreas, some lymph nodes and her gallbladder. During the same procedure, a cardiothoracic surgeon performed a bypass procedure to address the damaged artery.

Today, Lauren is on her way to a full recovery from her surgery. She may have temporarily lost her blonde hair, but not her playful personality and active imagination.