Nebraska teen faces second bout with rare cancer

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 5:11 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Fighting cancer once is hard enough. One Nebraska teen is in the middle of her second bout with a rare form of the disease.

Izabella Eckhardt was first diagnosed with pineoblastoma at the age of 12. Years later, she thought she was in the clear until her doctors recently found masses in her spine this summer.

“I didn’t even I didn’t feel anything we just went in for a normal MRI check,” Izabella said.

Weeks later, Izabella, now 18 years old, was back to treatments and hospital walls.

“Her type of cancer is very rapid-growing,” said Miki Eckhardt, Izabella’s mother. “The one in her brain went from the size of a dime to the size of a quarter in four days. This is dividing faster than that. And so that’s scary. It’s kind of a big guessing game as to what might work because there are so few kids before her.”

Pineoblastoma is so rare that when Izabella was first diagnosed, she said there wasn’t really a protocol for her exact case. Instead, her case helped pave the way for people diagnosed after her.

“A lot of parents and people have been using what I did to help their kids that have been diagnosed since I was diagnosed, Izabella said. “And so now that it’s back, a lot of them are freaking out. They’re like, Okay, well, what do you what do we do?”

Brain cancer is the deadliest cancer for children. According to the Team Jack Foundation, a brain cancer drug has yet to be developed specifically for kids. Funding research and medicine is their main mission.

“We’re trying to make it so that when a child is diagnosed with a brain tumor, the treatment that they have isn’t going to kill them, honestly, because usually the treatment is so harsh that sometimes even if they survive the tumor, they won’t survive the treatment,” said Kylie Dockter, Executive Director.

It’s been a decade since Team Jack began, and about $9 million has been raised.

“If we don’t do more then things aren’t going to change,” Dockter said. “We’ve had a lot of kids, and I think we’ve counted since December 2021 10 Plus kids that, you know, we’ve lost and so there’s still a major, major problem here and there’s still a lot a lot of work that needs to be done.”

And it’s all done for kids like Izabella, who now bravely faces her new challenge, beating pineoblastoma again.

“Now I guess what I enjoy doing is killing cancer for the second time,” Izabella said.

This month alone, Team Jack is hosting Miles for Team Jack and the 10th Annual Team Jack Radiothon.