Trip to the dentist leads to rare diagnosis for Oklahoma toddler

OKEENE, Okla. - 18-month-old Tallyn Thompson from Okeene loves to explore and play with her big brother at Science Museum Oklahoma.  She grabs a scoop shovel and splashes it in the water zone.

Her mom, Karyn, says she was a typical baby when her medical story began with a little dry skin.

"She had some typical childhood things like late development of cradle cap, which nobody was super-concerned about," Thompson said.

The dry patches were followed by another tiny sore in her mouth that wouldn't heal.  Fortunately, Thompson's dentist picked up on it.

"What ended up getting us diagnosed to make a long story short is she had a white spot on the roof of her mouth that just looked like she had stabbed herself with a straw or something and it was healing, but it never went away," she said.

The dentist referred the Thompsons to Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer, where doctors identified the sore as a mass of immune cells.  It's a disorder called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.

"It's pretty rare. Just one to two in every 100,000 people will have it," explains pediatric oncologist Dr. Lincy Thomas.  She says the danger is that these cell masses, or lesions, can show up and endanger internal organs.

"It's pretty controversial on whether this is cancer or not cancer.  We do know it responds really well to chemotherapy so she's got several different chemo medications she's getting along with steroid treatment," Dr. Thomas said.

Tallyn is now receiving regular chemo treatments and will continue to do so for months to come.

"She did a lot of crying with vitals and finger pokes and all that, but she's figured it out now," says mom Karyn.  "She's just here for the suckers."

"She's probably my most adorable patient.  I think Tallyn is going to do great, I think she'll grow up to be what she wants to be and have a great life ahead of her," Dr. Thomas said.

Her family says they're grateful their team at Jimmy Everest is here for them now, and will continue to be as she grows up.

Tallyn follows her brother, climbing around all the fascinating toys at the Science Museum.   You wouldn't know she's smiling and playing while undergoing chemo.

"It's a crazy disease," her mom adds.

If you'd like to help children like Tallyn with their medical battles, consider donating to JECFriends.org

'Kids with Courage' is sponsored by the Jimmy Everest Center. 

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