Meet Kid Captain Gabby Ford
Like coming home
Near the end of Gabby’s 16 days in the PICU, doctors placed a shunt to help relieve the pressure on her brain. She then began chemotherapy to stop the growth of any remaining tumor issue, causing Gabby to lose the rest of her hair that wasn’t already shaved off.
Unfortunately, new scans showed the cystic portion of her tumor was causing fluid to build up again and the solid portion had increased.
In July 2017, Gabby underwent an open craniotomy, in which surgeons removed part of her skull to access her brain, after which she spent another 10 days in intensive care at the children’s hospital.
“It was like coming home,” Mandy says. “The staff remembered our earlier stay and it made us feel more at ease.”
After completing a second year of chemo, Gabby rang the bell to signal the end of treatment in July 2018, but unfortunately, the tumor continued to grow.
Gratitude for a world-class team
Aside from surgery, DAY101 is the only treatment that has decreased the tumor’s size. Her parents say the most noticeable side effect is that Gabby’s hair color turned platinum.
"We have experienced incredible highs and lows, and our team has been with us through it all,” Mandy says.
The tumor has lasting effects on Gabby’s memory, particularly with retaining information.
“She can’t tell you what she learned or didn’t learn,” David says of her schooling. “There are a lot of holes in her long-term memory, as well.”
“She tells her friends the same jokes 10 times a day,” Mandy adds with a smile. “She’s still upbeat, happy-go-lucky and would like to be in school every day if she could.”
Now 17 and a high school junior, Gabby aspires to be a writer and enjoys math.
“Somehow, after her second brain surgery, she likes numbers now,” her mother laughs. “She’s our warrior.”
Gabby has endeared herself to the staff on Level 11 and other departments throughout the hospital, where the family shares “Gabby’s Hugs”—a piece of Hershey’s chocolate—with staff members they encounter.
“She inspires us every day to never give up and always look for the positive,” Mandy says, crediting Gabby’s care team for her continued progress. “When your child needs care, this is the best place to be. The care team truly listens to your concerns and are willing to go the extra step to make you feel included. You’re not just a patient or an appointment or a procedure—you’re family. They have saved our child’s life more than once and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend seeking treatment here.”