Gianna is an active 5-year-old who enjoys high-energy activities like going to the trampoline park and taking Jiu Jitsu classes.
In March of 2022, little Gianna began experiencing a sharp pain in her leg that was causing her to limp. Her mother, Kathy, took her to the pediatrician who recommended she have an X-ray to see what was causing the pain.
“Within an hour of having the X-ray, we received a call from her doctor who let us know they found a mass,” said Kathy. “It was not at all the news I was expecting.”
Gianna was referred to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Institute and within days of that initial X-ray, she was already receiving chemotherapy treatment for a bone cancer in her knee.
“Gianna was diagnosed with an aggressive mass in her knee called an osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone cancer in children,” said Dr. Maggie Fader, pediatric oncologist.
Although advances in medicine have led to various treatment options, an important step in treating osteosarcoma is surgical intervention to remove the cancerous bone and surrounding tissue.
Gianna underwent complete knee replacement with Dr. Thomas Temple, a pediatric orthopedic oncologist, to remove the mass. This requires replacing her knee entirely and having a metal prosthetic knee placed. Without this metal implant, the alternative would be amputation of her leg.
Because of Gianna’s age, this type of knee prosthesis has to be custom made to fit her size and structure.
“Bone tumors that occur in young children often require customized implants. These can be costly and are often not covered by medical insurance,” said Dr. Fader.
Gianna is doing well after her surgery and celebrated her last chemotherapy with a birthday party and bell ringing celebration alongside her care team.
Still, Giana has a long road ahead. She will require other surgeries and knee implants as she grows. She also needs months of rehabilitation to learn how to walk with her new knee.
To help Gianna, and more children like her who are in need of custom prosthetic implants to improve their quality of life after cancer treatment, please give today to the Sarcoma Patient Assistance Fund at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. Your gift will help to pay for medical treatment and prosthetics for these patients with unmet financial needs.
Donations to the sarcoma fund not only help children in need of medical prosthetics, they support children like Gianna in supporting their future, beyond diagnosis and treatment. Although Gianna has a long journey ahead of her, her optimism and energy keep her spirits high. She has big plans to become a firefighter just like her dad, a career that embodies her interests in physical activity.