OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A family’s fight for answers for an unsettling set of symptoms led to a frightening medical diagnosis.
“Annabel was diagnosed with melanoma, which in a pediatric patient is very, very rare. We’re here because for over a year, I had been telling her primary care doctor in Stillwater about it. And it went misdiagnosed,” said Charity Smith.
In an interview with KFOR, Charity said she is finally speaking out because she doesn’t want other parents or kids to face what her family went through.
“She just turned seven. She’s a twin. Why doesn’t she get to be a kid,” said Charity.
It all started with an unsettling set of symptoms last summer.
Charity said Annabelle got a terrible sunburn that caused her whole face to blister.
Then, a mole that suddenly appeared on her arm, but the first diagnosis from doctors was not cancer.
“[They said it was ] hemangioma”, she said, referring to a common birthmark with extra blood vessels under the skin.
“[But], her doctor just kept prescribing her steroid cream and sending us referrals from doctors that wouldn’t see her,” she continued.
Things did not sound right to her mother Charity.
As time ticked away, she continued pushing for more answers, leading to more calls and doctors visits.
They also had significant problems finding referrals for Annabelle’s care in the SoonerCare insurance network.
But, months later, they finally heard from the Mayo Clinic.
“It was stage 3b melanoma [and] after the biopsy was complete we learned that the [it] has spread to lymph nodes. She is awaiting a PET scan to determine if the cancer has spead to any other organs,” Charity added.
“[Annabelle] asked us if that meant she was going to die, and we told her we all die someday. But that’s not something that we’re focusing on because it’s not going to happen any time soon…she’s a fighter.”
Charity said additional tests were ordered at OU Health to determine if the cancer could be genetic.
“Her grandmother died from cancer that metastasized to her lung, to her brain. Her fraternal grandfather had melanoma. I’m just worried that this is something that might be genetic,” she said.
Charity said while she’s not angry with the doctor’s she’s upset it took so long for a medical professional to take her concerns seriously.
“Had this been caught a year ago, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have had to excise a 14 inch tumor out of my daughter’s armpit [and] she wouldn’t be having to go through a second surgery and possibly plastic surgery,” she added.
Charity said the recent genetic testing will determine Annabelle’s course of treatement and if doctors should take a closer look at her twin.
Family and friends have set up a Go Fund Me account to help the family tackle increasing medical bills.