Toddler diagnosed with cancer on Christmas begins treatment


MERIDIAN – In just a matter of days, a Meridian family’s world has been turned completely upside down.

On Christmas, doctors found a tumor behind 3-year-old Addy Abernathey’s right eye.

“I mean it was just two weeks ago she was dancing around the kitchen with her brother and sister singing, laughing and playing,” said John Abernathey, Addy’s father.

Now, it’s a different picture.

“She’s kind of our spunky one and a little bit sassy and strong-willed, so to see her reduced to this and so fast is pretty hard,” said John.

It all started with symptoms like fatigue, nausea, and abdominal pain. On Christmas eve Kristee Abernathey, Addy’s mother, noticed something was off with Addy’s right eye.

“I looked over at her and realized her gaze was a little off and she was kind of closing her right eye saying that the light was bothering her eye,” said Kristee.

A trip to the emergency room and countless tests later, the family received a diagnosis that stopped time.

“They did find out she had a tumor,” said Kristee.

Addy was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, cancer of soft tissue such as muscle or connective tissue like tendons.

“It’s just right behind her eye area in her sinuses, and it does move into her nasal area on the right side and the roof of her mouth, and it does encompass a lot of important cranial nerves,” said Kristee.

The tumor makes it difficult for Addy to open her eye.

“The nerve that is controlling that, the tumor is actually either pushing against it or it’s starting to get into it,” John said.

The tumor’s location makes it too risky to do surgery.

“The tough part now becomes how do they do treatment and making it as least invasive as possible for her and the best outcome,” said Kristee.

Addy’s hospital visits are just beginning as she starts chemotherapy and radiation.

“Any time we we go anywhere she asks if she’s going to get another shot or asks what are they going to do?” said Kristee. “That’s been difficult just because you want to explain and let her know what’s going on, but you don’t want her to be more traumatized than she already is.”

But with her spunky personality and strong will, and support from family friends, Kristee knows Addy will win.

“She’s our strong one so I know she’ll be able to beat this,” Kristee said.

John and Kristee say they have received tremendous support from the community, family and friends since Addy’s diagnosis, both emotionally and through a GoFundMe account.

Addy started chemotherapy on Friday night, less than a week after the tumor was found. Kristee says she will go through chemotherapy every three weeks for up to a year and will get radiation for six weeks. She says depending on the type of radiation needed, Addy will be treated in either Salt Lake City or in Seattle.


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