Parent Blog

Melanie Cox
Kewanee, Illinois

Elaina Cox entered the world during a pandemic, and her first battle was with cancer. But her mother, Melanie, knows that Elaina is “strong like the many strong women before her in this family” and has the right team fighting alongside her. Here’s Melanie’s story about how the staff at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital is providing the care and comfort necessary to make the whole experience a little less scary for the Cox family:

Eliana Cox, in NICU photoWith many surprises Miss Elaina Grace Cox made her exciting yet scary grand entrance into this big uncertain world.

Born April 13, 2020, at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, Elaina was born with a large mass above her left kidney. The mass was on her adrenal gland and pushing into her lung.

Due to this mass it was difficult for her to breathe deeply and use her lungs to their fullest capacity. At just a mere 3 days old Elaina underwent surgery.

The plan was to take a biopsy of the mass on her adrenal gland to do some testing to see what it was. It turned out they couldn’t get enough tissue for an accurate reading.

Next her care team decided to make an incision roughly six inches long to see if they could remove the mass. They were successful, and the mass in its entirety was removed.

Turns out the tumor was neuroblastoma, but her bone marrow tested negative for neuroblastoma. There still appears to be some cancer in her liver.

We have a long journey ahead of us, but know we are in the best hands possible. That definitely eases the stress and worry for this mom. We are definitely right where we need to be.

University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital is an amazing place! The doctors and surgeons as well as nurses and everyone we have come into contact with has been absolutely amazing!

Our nurses for delivery and labor as well as our nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit made us all feel very comfortable. The NICU is a scary place, and the caring nurses made our experience a little less scary.

I know that while I was recovering from surgery myself and couldn’t be with my baby she was being loved on and cuddled and receiving the best care from her nurses. They are top rated for a reason!

It was a scary time to have a baby during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the staff at the hospital made us feel safe. When both parents couldn’t be at the NICU together, it was hard. The doctors and nurses were very accommodating, allowing video chats to receive test results so both parents could hear them.

It was hard to be in the NICU alone without my husband and hear “your newborn baby has cancer.” It was the hardest thing I have been through in my life. The doctors and nurses were there to support me when my husband couldn’t be because of COVID-19. I am thankful for them making the situation the best it could be for the circumstances.

Elaina is now having weekly clinic appointments. Her weight is being watched carefully since she is so little and having chemo. She is receiving chemotherapy every three weeks. And regular MRIs to watch the neuroblastoma in her liver. We have also recently been told she needs hearing aids, so we are working on getting her fitted for those.

Today Elaina is doing great. She is proving to be strong like the many strong women before her in this family. We will continue to have appointments at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital until Elaina is cancer-free!

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