Wahl beating the odds
Bay Port STINGCANCER advisor Stacy Baynes (left) and junior Delaney Wahl at the “Carnival for a Cure” event Feb. 9.
BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – Bay Port junior Delaney Wahl is like a lot of teenagers – athletic, strong, kind, sarcastic and fun. She loves the Packers, dancing, playing soccer, volunteering, fishing and shopping.
You wouldn’t guess the 17-year old is living with a rare form of cancer called Epithelioid Hemangioendothelioma (EHE). EHE is often a deadly vascular sarcoma that primarily affects adolescents and young adults.
It’s characterized by unpredictable tumors that form on blood vessels, most commonly found in the arms, legs, lungs and liver. EHE affects only 100-200 people per year and Wahl is just one of seven teenagers WORLDWIDE affected by the disease.
“When I was 8, I started getting shooting pains in my left arm,” said Wahl, who moved to Green Bay from Virginia last July after her father retired from the military. “I was a full-time gymnast at the time, so the doctors just treated me for tendonitis. Eventually the pain got to be constant and my arm would just give out. After a few years of ‘fighting’ with the doctors and not having them give me scans, I got to the point where I could see a tumor on my arm it was so big. I was 12 at the time and they finally did a scan, and the tumor showed up.”
Wahl was officially diagnosed with EHE in 2014 after being misdiagnosed early on – a common occurrence with the disease. Due to the rarity of the cancer, there is currently no cure or set treatment plan, as well as little to no funding done for research. Most funds are raised directly by the families affected.
Because of this, Delaney and her parents started a non-profit – The EHE Foundation – in 2015 to try and raise money for EHE research.
Wahl’s type of cancer does not respond well to the typical chemo and radiation treatments, so everyone is treated as an experiment. As Delaney pointed out, “Some treatments work for others that wouldn’t work for me.” Wahl is currently on a drug that is commonly used as an anti-rejection medication for organ transplants.
Delaney feels pretty good at the moment. She had clean scans for two years after being diagnosed, but then in Nov. of 2016, two small tumors appeared in her right lung. Before those tumors showed up, Wahl wasn’t even on any type of treatment plan – just scans to monitor things. The tumors have grown a very minimal amount since then.
The transition for any teen moving from one state to another is never easy, but Wahl is adjusting well.
“I really like Howard-Suamico and Bay Port a lot,” she said. “It’s a lot of different from my old district, but I really do like it. I plan on playing soccer this spring. We knew we were going to move to Green Bay for about two years before we actually did it, so I followed the team all last season. I’m excited.”
Delaney takes anti-nausea medication before games or working out because getting her heartrate up so high makes her nauseous. As long as she does that, she feels fine during strenuous activities.
Wahl was among those in attendance at Bay Port’s STINGCANCER night preceding the Pirates’ boys’ basketball game against Green Bay Preble Feb. 9. The “Carnival for a Cure” included games and prizes, bounce house, mini golf, face painting, henna, Nerf war, raffle, bake sale, cotton candy, petting zoo, silent auction and more.
During the ever-popular “Miracle Minute” at halftime of the game, more than $900 was raised for EHE research!
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