David and Kitzi Sobkowiak have every right to feel very blessed that their daughter, Skylar, celebrated her fifth birthday. A year ago, there was some doubt Skylar would see her fifth birthday after doctors found a neuroblastoma about the size of a baseball in her abdomen.
“She was in the hospital for her fourth birthday,” said Kitzi. “This year, we celebrated her fifth birthday and a year of being cancer-free.”
They also have good reason to feel blessed that she has a generous heart. About 70 friends and relatives joined Skylar for an early fifth birthday celebration Jan. 18 at the Eagle’s Club in La Crosse, bringing gifts that Skylar could donate to the Children’s Miracle Network.
“When we asked her if she wanted to donate her toys to Children’s Miracle Network, it was amazing how quickly she responded (that she wanted to donate the toys),” Dave said.
On her fourth birthday (Jan. 26), Skylar was in the hospital preparing for surgery to remove the tumor. The Sobkowiaks took Skylar to the hospital last January when they couldn’t wake her that morning. Initially, they were told it was a virus, but the results of a blood test and the fact that Skylar was nearly comatose indicated there was a more serious problem. She also had a blood sugar level reading of 44 (normal pre-breakfast range is 70-100).
“She was really brave through everything,” said Dave. “We were blessed with all the prayers.”
After the cause of her symptoms was discovered, Skyler underwent a 10-hour operation, which proved to be successful. According to Skylar’s mother, all the cancerous cells were contained in the tumor.
“She didn’t need to do chemo.” said Kitzi. “None of the cancer cells spread. Kids can be born with this kind of tumor. By the time the doctors find it, the kids are 3 years old and the (cancer) cells might have spread.”
Throughout the ordeal, Skylar and her family were supported by the Children’s Miracle Network. “They (pediatric patients) get tokens for any shots or IVs they get,” said Mary Rockwell, Skylar’s grandmother. “They use the tokens to pick out toys.”
The support they received was especially gratifying because the family was dealing with other issues during that time. Dave’s mother passed away, and one of Skylar’s cousins was also in the hospital at the same time. And Kitzi was pregnant.
Although Skylar will have to undergo annual exams to be sure she remains cancer-free, Skylar now appears to be a normal, active 5-year-old. In the family’s home on Brice Prairie, she plays with her new kitten, Simon, and enjoys her 5-month-old brother, Landon, and 14-year-old brother, Blake.