Addie's family hopeful for healthy new year

01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, December 28, 2004

By STEVE PEOPLES
Journal Staff Writer

 

PORTSMOUTH -- Much of the last year is a blur for Mike Vogl.

"It's hard to remember all the stuff we went through," he said. "I was in such a fog, it was so emotional. You never knew if she was going to die or what -- my mind was so overcome with everything."

But his daughter did not die.

Addison Vogl survived four major surgeries. Seven rounds of chemotherapy. And the problems associated with being born three months premature.

She will turn 2 in March. At 21 months and 23 pounds, she is a bundle of energy. She runs. She cries. And she gets into everything, says her father.

And for now, the liver cancer that once threatened her life is gone.

There's no more surgery planned for Addie. Just lots of tests to make sure the cancer doesn't come back.

Now, she has eyebrows. Eyelashes. And long locks of brown hair that reach her big blue eyes.

"She looks like a normal kid," Mike Vogl said. "When she's got her clothes on and she's not hooked up you can't tell. But then of course you take her shirt off and see the scars."

Addie still eats from a feeding tube that her parents hook up through her stomach. She has never eaten solid food, though doctors believe the problem now is behavioral more than physical.

For most of her life Addie's condition caused her to vomit more than a dozen times a day. Now, she's down to once, usually in the morning.

Doctors believe she has minor hearing loss due to the intense chemotherapy. Addie hasn't started talking yet, though she knows a few words in sign language, like "please," "thank you," "more," and "help."

"She's such a success story it's amazing," her father said.

The community rallied around Addie and her family after news of their struggles became public last December. People from across the state have donated thousands of dollars and pledged support in any way they could.

Coworkers of Addie's mother, Stacey, donated their sick days. Mike's boss donated use of his private plane to fly the family to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. And a complete stranger from New York paid for the family to take a Disney cruise a few months ago.

But despite the support and Addie's apparent progress there are no guarantees.

"Overall it's a 30 percent chance it'll come back," Mike Vogl said of the cancer. "I don't like those odds."

Doctors say that the prognosis dramatically improves in three years.

In the meantime, the family will be busy dealing with a new addition. Stacey Vogl is seven months pregnant -- already more pregnant than she was when Addie was born. It is a boy.

"We were going to have another kid, we just didn't expect it to happen so soon," Mike Vogl said.

And the family is still reeling from news that Stacey's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in November.

But Ruth Kelly, of North Kingstown, said she is hopeful.

"I know that I have a long road ahead of me but with Addie as my inspiration I know that I will make it through this. 2004 has been a long and hard year for our family but, the new year is just a few days away, and with it come our hopes and dreams for the future," Kelly said in an e-mail. "Because of everyone, she is my inspiration to keep on fighting."

To contact Steve Peoples, phone (401) 277-7459 or e-mail SPeoplesATprojo.com