Year One a trying triumph for Addie Vogl, family

After four major surgeries and the certainty of two more rounds of chemotherapy, Addie Vogl is in the pink on her first birthday.

01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, March 2, 2004

BY STEVE PEOPLES
Journal Staff Writer

 

PROVIDENCE -- It is a day they thought would never come.

Addison Vogl looks curiously at the chocolate cake in front of her. Ten colorful balloons gently bounce on the ceiling among the streamers. And the small crowd of friends and family is singing.

"From the beginning we didn't expect her to make her first month, never mind her first year," Addie's father, Mike Vogl, says.

But despite being born three months premature, and despite the liver cancer, and despite the four major surgeries, Addie turned 1 year old yesterday.

It didn't matter that she couldn't eat any of her birthday cake, or that she couldn't help her mother unwrap the pile of gifts. Addie was alive. And she was smiling.

"What do kids do at 1 year old? Crawl? Start to talk?" asks Addie's grandfather, Bill Kelly, of Newport. "She decided to skip that and kick cancer's ass."

The fifth-floor parents lounge of Hasbro Children's Hospital was filled yesterday with aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, brothers, grandparents, nurses and doctors. Like any other birthday party, many snapped pictures and ate cake.

They ooohed and aaahed as Addie's mother, Stacey, opened each present. There were many pink outfits, a hamster that sung "La Cucaracha," and a princess doll.

When Stacey unwrapped a baby's bottle she paused for a moment.

"My God, I hope she uses this someday," she said.

Addie has never eaten solid food. Just over a week ago doctors connected a feeding tube directly into her small intestine to avoid inserting a tube through her nose as had been done before.

Most of the partygoers had visited Addie in hospitals many times before.

After spending 89 days in the hospital following her birth, the little girl spent just two months at the family's Portsmouth home before being diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer known as hepatoblastoma.

Surgeon's at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital later removed 70 percent of Addie's liver -- and all the cancer -- in late January. She was transferred to Hasbro shortly after the surgery and hasn't been home since.

Just over a week ago a team of surgeons at Hasbro repaired a leak in Addie's liver, straightened her twisted stomach, and repaired her esophagus.

Her condition was fluctuating in the days immediately following the surgery. She was placed in intensive care again, where doctors discovered some internal bleeding. They believe that Addie should make a full recovery.

When she is strong enough she will begin another two rounds of chemotherapy, something doctors have been anxious to begin since Addie left Baltimore.

"Without chemo they're almost 100 percent sure that the cancer will come back," Mike says. "It's not over."

But there wasn't much talk about sickness yesterday.

Just a day out of intensive care, Addie appeared happy and healthy, aside from the tubes protruding from under her dress and connected to the machine.

She now weighs 13 and a half pounds, a year after weighing in at 1 pound 7 ounces.

"Now she's reaching. She's pulling. She's babbling," says Maria Penacho, one of the nurses who has been attending Addie at Hasbro. "She used to just lie still a few months ago. Now she actually has a double chin. You can pinch those cheeks."

To contact Steve Peoples phone, 277-7459 or e-mail SPeoples [at] projo.com