Marblehead toddler fighting cancer

MARBLEHEAD Rosemarie Todd looks like a typical toddler. The 21-month-old giggles and
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

 

MARBLEHEAD

Rosemarie Todd looks like a typical toddler.

The 21-month-old giggles and laughs while playing with her older sister, Katee.

She examines her toys with an innocent curiosity, completely unaware of her struggle to survive.

Rosemarie's head is bald and her tiny right arm has a permanent IV. These are the costs of fighting an uphill battle against the aggressive cancer.

Her mother, Roseann Todd, noticed something was wrong when her daughter went from an active 9-month-old to a limp doll.

"She wasn't gaining any weight or growing," Roseann said. "Personally, because we didn't have an answer, I thought she was going to die. She was that bad."

On Aug. 7, Rosemarie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, the most common form of childhood cancer. Rosemarie has the worst form of the cancer since it spread from a tumor near her kidney to her skull, ribs and a bone in her right thigh.

"Because she's in such an advanced stage, she can get other cancers -- leukemia is a big side effect," Roseann said. "It's something we don't worry about -- the bad side."

Rosemarie's tumor was removed Feb. 20 during a 12-hour surgery.

Roseann and her husband, Ryan, travel constantly between Columbus and Toledo for Rosemarie's chemotherapy treatments and the toddler will soon begin radiation therapy.

"It's been a lot of long sleepless days," Ryan said. "She is an angel. I'm amazed at the way she acts with all the stuff she's going through. You really couldn't tell she has a problem."

Roseann said her daughter's strength encourages her.

"She inspires everyone else," Roseann said. "She gives us the inspiration to be OK. It's no big deal to her."

Although Rosemarie is recovering, her fight with cancer is only beginning.

Once she finishes her radiation therapy, the toddler will receive a more powerful dose of chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer. The next step will be a bone marrow transplant.

Even if the treatments and transplant are successful, the cancer can still return several times throughout her life, Roseann said.

Rosemarie has a 20 percent chance of survival, but Roseann said she just focuses on the present.

"I don't let myself think about it -- that's really how I get through it," Roseann said. "I can't bear the thought of her not making it. I can only get through the here and now."

Despite losing her uncle to pancreatic cancer last year, Roseann allows herself a glimmer of hope.

"I believe that she'll be in those plans in the future," Roseann said.

HOW TO HELP

*Make a check payable to "The Rosemarie Todd Fund" and send it to Marblehead Bank, 709 W. Main St., Marblehead, Ohio, 43440.

*For information on Rosemarie's family, the disease and her progress, visit caringbridge.org/visit/rosemarietodd