One day, Ayan’s mother Anca noticed some swelling on his left forearm, but she thought it was just a common insect bite. A few days later, when she realized that the swelling was not decreasing in size, she decided to take Ayan to his pediatrician who recommended a biopsy.
As they were awaiting the results of the biopsy, Anca and Ayan had plans to travel abroad to visit family for the holidays. But what began as a highly anticipated end of year family trip from Romania to South Florida, quickly took an unexpected turn for Anca and Ayan.
During their flight to the states, Ayan began to experience pain in both legs and a high fever, growing Anca worried. Immediately after landing, she decided to rush Ayan to the nearest emergency room for an evaluation, where they were advised that the best thing was to be transferred to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. Once they arrived, Anca was shocked to learn that they were instantly admitted to the hematology and oncology unit for yet another biopsy and additional testing.
The biopsy confirmed that Ayan had an alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, which is an aggressive type of sarcoma, or cancer of the soft tissue (muscle), connective tissue (tendons or cartilage), or bone. There are only about 500 rhabdomyosarcoma cases per year in the United States, and of those only 100 are an alveolar subtype. In Ayan’s case, it began in his forearm and traveled to his axilla and to the chest. It was also determined that he was a stage 4, which meant he needed to begin treatment immediately. That’s when Anca and Ayan met Dr. Maggie Fader, pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital who guided them through an extremely intense treatment regimen of including chemotherapy, resection surgery and proton radiation.
Fast forward more than a year later, and Ayan is now cancer free and back in his home country of Romania where he started school and is making friends, just like all kids should!