Mercy Carthage workers raising money for coworker's granddaughter
Addy Joy Sooter is only three years old, but an aggressive form of brain cancer is threatening to end her life far too soon.
Employees of Mercy Carthage Hospital have gotten together to help Ann Sooter raise money so her granddaughter can continue to receive experimental treatments at a Mexican hospital that seem to be bringing Addy's cancer under control.
“It's just a devastating disease that only in the last couple of years have doctors found a way to biopsy it and study it,” Ann Sooter told The Carthage Press on Monday. “She's in Mexico now getting her seventh treatment. Her doctors in Little Rock wanted to see her last week, and when they did an MRI, they said the tumor was gone.”
Ann Sooter said each treatment costs about $25,000 to $30,000 plus the costs of traveling to Monterrey, Mexico where American doctors have set up a clinic to treat the cancer.
Ann Sooter works in the labs at Mercy Carthage Hospital and said her coworkers at Mercy Carthage got the idea to have a special Enchanted Christmas fundraiser.
The event will include the showing of the movie, “Disney Princess – An Enchanted Christmas” and will include royal face painting, a Princess nail salon and chances to meet and have photos taken with some live Disney Princesses.
The event is $5 at the door and will be held starting at 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Wildwood Baptist Church, 4827 E. 20th St., Joplin.
“My coworkers in the lab came up with the idea and the whole hospital has joined in to support it,” Sooter said. “People from every department have come in and walked with us on this.”
Addy is the three-year-old daughter of Matt and Chandra (Cole) Sooter.
Matt is a native of the Carthage area while Chandra grew up in Neosho. He's a youth minister now and the family lives in the Rogers, Ark., area, Ann Sooter said.
Addy was diagnosed in November, 2016 with what doctors said was a terminal brain tumor, called DPIG or Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Giloma, which grows within the brainstem of its victim, affecting muscle control, breathing and other essential bodily functions.
According to the Facebook community, DPIG Support and Awareness, the cancer is inoperable and incurable and the chances for survival are less than one percent.
The page said children are typically diagnosed at ages 5-10 but it can affect all ages, including adult.
Ann Sooter said Addy was one of the youngest children ever diagnosed with this cancer at two years of age.
She said there were not treatments available from American doctors, but doctors in England and Mexico were working on experimental treatments that showed hope of shrinking the tumor.
All doctors in America could offer was radiation treatments, which Ann Sooter said were effective at first in shrinking the tumor. Doctors told the family the affects would be temporary and the tumor would start growing back more aggressively, and that's what happened.
“Around last Thanksgiving, Addy was really sick,” Ann Sooter said. “She had lost the function of her hands and feet and it paralyzed one side of her face. After the first radiation treatments, you could see some improvement and her condition was stable for a few months, but then the tumor started growing back and she was sick again.”
The family had been researching the treatments available in other countries and had applied for and been accepted to a program in England that showed promise.
At the last minute, as the family was preparing to cross the Atlantic Ocean, British doctors looked at Addy's MRI one final time and decided it had wrapped itself too closely around her brainstem and their treatments would likely be ineffective.
At the same time, Addy was accepted in the Mexican program, and the family went there instead.
In the past few weeks, Addy and her family have made seven trips to Mexico for treatments. In fact, the family was in Mexico on Monday for her seventh treatment, and doctors there said they expected she might need a few more treatments.”
“There are a couple of children who are a couple of treatments ahead of Addy, and they've been declared free of the tumor,” Ann Sooter said. “If you go on the DPIG community on Facebook, you can see there are a number of children who haven't made it in their battle against this disease.”