A local girls battle with Thyroid cancer after the shocking discovery during an annual medical check up reenforced the importance of yearly doctor visits in the family. The 12-year-old Liberty Crick showed few symptoms and expressed little to no discomfort in the time leading up to the diagnosis of the slow moving cancer. According to the girls mother, Jeny Crick, the Integris Baptist Hospital was efficient in resolving the issue and her daughter is well on her way to be cancer free.
The discovery of the cancer began when the family went in for an annual medical check.
"We went to a Well Child check, that is how it happened. We hadn't been for three years because they were not sick. My little one had a cough and I had a cough, so I figured we could all go in and get Well Child checks," Jeny said.
Looking back, Jeny said she had noticed Liberty's neck had been slightly enlarged for a couple of years but, she assumed it was due to her daughter getting older and growing. Liberty also stated that she had a bump on her neck for some time, which was assumed to be a simple swollen Lymph Node. Liberty also said she was constantly tired, going to sleep at odd hours.
"I would get home and immediately go to my bed and go to sleep for two hours. Then I would wake up, go to dinner and go back to bed," Liberty said.
The Cricks believed this was the behavior of a child becoming a teenager as excessive sleep is common for that age group. However, during the doctors visit, the family learned it was far more than a simple issue.
"When the doctor was feeling her (Liberty's) throat, the doctor looked right at me and asked if she (Liberty) has been having any problems with her thyroid. I didn't even know what the thyroid is. So she had tests done and it was determined that something was definitely not right," Jeny said.
The check up took place in December of 2016 and the family arranged for an ultrasound and biopsy of the infected area for Liberty that took place in January 2017. During the biopsy, it was confirmed that Liberty had Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma, a slow moving cancer, and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.
"It actually happened pretty fast. ... They had the ultrasound then her doctor, her primary care, called me and she told me what it was. The following week we saw a surgeon then the following week after that we had the biopsy and the week after that we had the surgery," Jeny said.
Liberty was admitted to the Integris Baptist Hospital for a total of four days, during which time the surgeons scraped the cancerous infection from her vocal chords. This procedure disabled her speech for some time, according to Liberty. Jeny mentioned that Liberty did not lose any of her playful attitude during the hospital stay.
"Her voice was very hoarse and almost nonexistent for a while. There was one night she sent me 14 texts because I had actually passed out in the hospital room. I had to help her go to the restroom because of all her tubes and stuff and when I got back into my little, what you would call bed, there were a bunch of stuffed animals that I did not go to sleep with. She had been throwing them at me, trying to get my attention because I couldn't hear her and I didn't see her texts," Jeny said, as Liberty laughed and responded by saying she was just being resourceful.
The surgery took more than nine hours to complete and a total of 16 Lymph Nodes and her thyroid were removed from Liberty's neck.
Following the procedure, the Crick's were informed of a startling fact.
"When they took it out, it was worse off than they thought it was. According to the surgeon, she had this for several years," Jeny explained.
Liberty said she was very thankful for her friends who came to visit her in the hospital. Jeny said one of her friends even went as far as to skip school for a day to comfort Liberty at the hospital.
The areas infected by the slow moving cancer were removed and Liberty is now on her way to being declared cancer free after a four day period in the hospital. According to Jeny, her daughter will be on medication for the rest of her life and she will take a radioactive iodine pill this summer. Following the iodine pill, Liberty will undergo a scan to ensure the cancer did not metastasize somewhere else in her body. If the scan does not find any more traces of the cancer in her body, she will declared cancer free.
Now that the major infection is removed, Jeny noted there have been major changes in her daughter.
"There is a huge difference now. She is not as tired, she is awake a lot more. She is more active in school now," Jeny said.
Reflecting on the entire event, Jeny said she is very thankful for the yearly medical check ups and she intends to take her children in every year now. She wishes to encourage anyone with a child to take them to get check ups every year.
"Just because your child is growing up and not sick, you still need to do your Well Child checks. I still get emotional about it, I just feel like I failed as a mother. Bumps are not to be ignored, no matter how small or weird you think they are, it could be something," Jeny said.
Since the conclusion of the major procedures, the family has been collecting a large pile of medical bills. Jeny said it is against her nature to ask for help and intended to find a way to deal with the bills. However, a friend of the family had different plans for the Cricks.
"A friend of mine, their daughter asked me if I minded if she did a fundraiser for us. So it is through booster, it is hash-tagged Liberty Strong and you can buy T-shirts online. We have 9 days to go. We have to have fifty sold before they can print any of it, so it is kind of a weird situation," Jeny said.
According to the Cricks, anyone wishing to support the family can go to booster.com/liberty-strong to look at the T-shirts.