8-year-old fighting brain cancer returns to Walla Walla
WALLA WALLA, Wash. — Julianna Sayler was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) in November. She and her family are back in Walla Walla after spending six weeks in London for an aggressive experimental treatment.
Julianna underwent a seven-hour surgery, placing four catheters in her brain stem. The next day she was given her first cancer-fighting infusion through the catheters. One month later, she received her second infusion.
“We stayed from the time between the first treatment and the second treatment because a couple of other kids have had some complications as a result of the treatment. We wanted to be close to the hospital there in case something happened,” said Eric Sayler, Julianna’s father.
“Fortunately, Julianna didn’t have any serious complications other than some mild infection that we got under control,” he said.
The family traveled through Europe, visiting Scotland, York and Wales. Although Julianna was struggling, she said she has a great time learning about the history of the U.K. and visiting three zoos.
“I just feel really tired and the side of my body is really weak. And it’s just hard to walk,” said Julianna.
“There’s some apprehension because every time we put a treatment into her brain stem it causes challenges for her,” said Eric.
Julianna will need to travel back to London every 4-6 weeks for more infusions.
The Sayler family raised $100,000 for their first trip, but still need to raise $15,000 for each future trip.
“Right now they haven’t determined that it is a cure, so because of that we are going to continue to manage it and hopefully shrink it through this treatment. There are some amazing things on the horizon that clinics around the world, especially in the U.S., are developing that will hopefully eventually turn into a cure. They are between a year and three years out before clinical trials are done,” said Eric.
He said Julianna will keep receiving the infusion treatments until there is a cure.
DIPG is a rare form of brain cancer that affects about 250-300 children in America each year. There have been no improvement in treatment in the last 50 years. No one has yet to survive the aggressive form of cancer that typically affects children between the ages of 5-9.
Julianna is only the 16th person in the world to receive this experimental treatment.
“So each time they do it they learn something. Not only are we hoping to cure Julianna, but we’re helping all other DIPG kids that follow too,” said Stacie Sayler, Julianna’s mother.
Julianna and her mother will go back to London on May 6 for one week. She will have an MRI that will shed some light on if the treatment is working.
“They said it look like there was slight shrinkage, but they don’t consider it true shrinkage until it shrinks by 25% so that’s quite a bit,” said Eric.
For Julianna, being involved in the experimental treatment gives her a chance to meet other children struggling with DIPG.
“I like meeting the other kids so I can know their names and pray for them and so I can know them and so they know that I’m going through the same thing,” said Julianna.
The family will continue to accept donations for her treatment.
This is a list of future fundraisers: (click on links to learn more)
Online donations can be given anytime to:
PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org (Via Friends and Family Option)