Midlands 4-year-old finishes cancer treatment, family hopes story promotes awareness

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 7:33 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2021 at 6:32 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Evie Gvozdas has tackled more in her four years of life than most people will tackle in four decades.

When she was just two years old, she was diagnosed with leukemia. A well check for an ear infection on an early June 2019 morning turned into a leukemia battle for then 2-year-old Evie by lunchtime. But after 832 days of treatment, Wednesday, September 15th marked Evie’s last oral chemotherapy treatment.

Remission and on toward survivorship. That’s the next destination.

With survivorship comes a new purpose for the Gvozdas family. Meredith Gvozdas, Evie’s Mom, told WIS that while she is forever grateful for the staff at Prisma Health who treated her child, she wants to see more treatments become available for kids like Evie.

“Her survivorship for me means that we use her story and that we teach her about this and that we inspire people through her story and through her survivorship to do better,” said Gvozdas.

According to Children’s Cancer Cause, while hundreds of treatments have been developed for kids, 30 of the 34 cancer-fighting drugs for children were originally approved for adult use. That means only four drugs were approved specifically for childhood use.

The Medical Director for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Prisma Health, Dr. Stuart Cramer, said he understands that frustration.

“Over the last few years what has become apparent is the lack of new novel therapeutics for pediatric cancer,” said Dr. Cramer. “Pediatrics needs that same opportunity that adults have for new novel therapeutics.”

Dr. Kramer reminds parents to be aware of their kid’s symptoms. Early signs of blood cancer, specifically, could be symptoms you see all the time like headache, fatigue and increased tiredness. But if you notice they are increasingly pale, have bruising all over the body or are losing appetite, he said those are signs you need to see a doctor.

Gvozdas believes one of the first steps to getting people involved is getting lawmakers involved. She said she’s grateful that Governor Henry McMaster proclaimed September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in South Carolina.

The National Cancer Institute estimates that 15,590 children and adolescents will be diagnosed with cancer in 2021 here in the U.S., and 1,780 will die of the disease. Gvozdas hopes that seeing Evie’s face will inspire others to get involved and push for more treatments to become available for kids that come after Evie.

For more information about childhood cancer and advocacy related to funding and creating more treatments, you can go to Children’s Cancer Cause at www.childrenscancercause.org.

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