Gia’s Road to Remission

Published on: 09/09/2016

Gia Maria Lee was born just four days short of Christmas in 2011. She was Danays Benavides’ Christmas Miracle.
Gia’s parents soon learned that their baby wouldn’t have it easy.

She was born with a disorder known as Vacterl syndrome. Each letter in the word stands for a part of the body that the syndrome affects. Vertebral anomalies, anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheoesophageal fistula and/or esophageal atresia, renal and radial anomalies and limb defects are just the technical terms for the monsters that she was fighting.


Gia was born in Jamaica and was living there when she was diagnosed with cancer. She was just 3 years old when her mother noticed blood in her urine.

“We had her undergo several scans, and they found a tumor in one of her kidneys,” said Benavides.

It was later determined that Gia had a Wilms’ tumor, which is nephroblastoma, or a cancer of the kidneys, that typically occurs in children. She underwent a surgery in Jamaica to remove the entire kidney because the cancer had spread, making the organ unsalvageable.

The family then moved to South Florida to pursue treatment at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. With the help of Dr. Athena Pefkarou, a pediatric specialist in oncology and hematology, Gia began to receive chemotherapy in January of 2015, and she has been in remission for a year now.

“Gracias a Dios (Thank God),” said Benavides, expressing relief that her daughter is finally on the road to recovery.

Gia visits the hospital weekly to receive treatment and she still has quite a way to go because her remaining kidney is at 30 percent functionality. Gia continues to makes strides and has half the battle won.

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