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news News Thursday, May 17, 2018 Thursday, May 17, 2018 2:22 PM - Thursday, May 17, 2018 2:22 PM

Shreveport Shriners Hospital helps ‘miracle’ patient thrive

Mom: “She’s just an overcomer”

Shreveport Shriners Hospital helps ‘miracle’ patient thrive

Skylar Hunt has been defying the odds since the day she was born. Shortly after birth, Skylar was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that over the course of a few months had spread from Skylar’s hip to encircle her spine and invade her bone marrow, eyes and base of her skull. Due to the severity of the condition, physicians began to prepare Skylar’s family for the worst.

“When we received the diagnosis that September, Skylar was 9 months old and her birthday was in November,” mother Erica recalled. “Our doctors told us to take her home and give her the best birthday ever because she probably wouldn’t have a second one. So, she’s a miracle.”

With the help of cancer specialists, Skylar fought the odds through years of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatments and physical therapy. While the intensive treatment regimen allowed Skylar to overcome the dire threat posed by the cancer, the cumulative effects of the treatments resulted in acute damage to her hip, stunted leg growth, and nerve damage that dramatically affected her ability to walk.

“The tumor was intertwined with Skylar’s nerves such that when she came out of surgery, she couldn’t move her left leg at all because the nerve was damaged,” Erica said. “She did physical therapy for years just trying to get the nerve to come back. It just came to the point where we thought this was how it was going to be.”

During adaptive physical education courses at her school, faculty encouraged Skylar and her family to seek out Shriners Hospitals for Children — Shreveport. There, physicians assessed Skylar’s hip and initially performed a partial hip replacement to stabilize the joint. Last summer, having passed necessary growth milestones, Skylar underwent a full hip replacement, a surgery that has also served to address a leg length discrepancy caused by her hip condition. Physicians at the Shreveport Shriners Hospital will continue to monitor Skylar for associated scoliosis, as well as a ‘dropping’ of the foot as a result of previous nerve damage.

Now age 17, Skylar is taking college classes through an ‘early college’ option at River Parishes Community College in her hometown of Gonzalez, Louisiana, and ultimately plans to become a neonatal intensive care (NICU) nurse. As Skylar continues to excel, she credits her Shreveport Shriners Hospital team for their attention to her specific needs and goals.

“Shriners has been great,” Skylar said. “Here, you’re not just another patient; it’s personal. They know your story, they know you and they relate to you. It’s been really great and helpful for me.”

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Shreveport helps miracle patient