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3-year-old DL girl battles cancer

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Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

It was as if it appeared one day out of nowhere. Now, it's changing the Brend family for the next year. Or possibly forever.

One day toward the end of February, 3-year-old Taylor Brend, Rochert, had an ear infection. Her mom, Kristi, took her to the doctor on a Saturday. That day, Taylor had a lump appear on her right side, above her stomach.

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"I swear it came in a day," Kristi said.

The doctors weren't certain what it was, so they did an ultrasound and CAT scan.

"When they said CAT scan, the tears came," she said of herself.

At first one of the doctors said it might just be a fleshy mass that needed to be removed. Surgery was a must regardless of what the lump was.

She had the surgery the next Thursday in Fargo. The lump was sent to Mayo Clinic in Rochester to be analyzed, and it was confirmed, it was cancerous.

Taylor was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer that grows on muscles in children. The cancer was level four, which is the most aggressive form of cancer, and stage 1, which means it was only in one spot of her body.

"It had nothing to do with environment. She's too little. It was just a bad cell," Kristi said.

Wile the surgery took care of the cancer, Taylor must endure chemotherapy for a year. Her treatments are at the Roger Maris Center in Fargo.

"They're really wonderful, really good," Kristi said of the doctors and nurses at the Maris Center. Her doctor, Nathan Kobrinsky, MD, is one of the best in the nation, she said.

When she took her daughter in for an ear infection and eventually the lump on her side, Kristi said she never would have thought her daughter had cancer.

While it's hard to explain to a 3-year-old she has cancer, Kristi said Taylor is dealing with it all right.

"She's popular with the doctors and nurses," she said.

She's tired of doctors and wants to stay home, Kristi said. But the family is trying to keep her life as normal as possible.

The two-hour chemo sessions are five days a week. The routine has been chemo for two weeks, then one week off, so far.

"Transportation costs are going to skyrocket," she said. "We bought a car right away for mileage."

The good news is that with new anti-nausea drugs, Taylor hasn't been sick.

The doctor bills haven't started rolling in yet either, but it's only a matter of time. That's something Brends aren't looking forward to.

Kristi works at Morrison Eye Care Clinic in Detroit Lakes, and her husband, Todd, works at Brend Repair on Highway 34.

But keeping Taylor's life normal, and the rest of the family's, too, isn't easy.

"She has a very low immune system, and this time of the year is bad," Kristi said.

So, they don't leave the house much.

Taylor has a twin brother, Tanner.

"He's trying to take it in stride, but he's kind of jealous."

Taylor is getting a lot of attention and gifts daily in the mail.

The Brends and their doctors aren't worried about Tanner getting the cancer since he and Taylor aren't identical twins. If they had been, he would have been promptly tested as well.

"Of the two twins, she's tough. She has adapted well," Kristi said of Taylor.

Taylor went in Friday for another CAT scan so doctors can make sure the chemo is working. Since she's getting sick of taking medicine, Kristi said she has to "be creative on getting her to take stuff," so she brought Taylor's toys and had a tea party to get her to drink the chalk for the CAT scan.

"It's exhausting, physically and mentally. Ill never be the same person again. The whole world is just shattered. It (cancer) completely runs you," Kristi said.

In the beginning, she said she tried to book appointments all together. Didn't work. The Brends lives now center around Taylor's cancer and her care. Cancer isn't about convenience, she said.

"It's very, very stressful. We don't have a life anymore."

Beside the worry of cancer, there are other worries that come with the territory. Taylor has a port in her chest that can't get wet. Kristi was worried about swimming this summer, but the port comes out on Fridays, so she can be in the water, and goes back in Mondays.

Also with the chemo, Taylor has lost her hair. She doesn't like hats, so Kristi said she is worried about sunburn this summer.

But instead of focusing on what's coming in months or next year, Kristi said they are just working on one week at a time.

May 7 there is a benefit planned for Taylor and the Brend family to defray medical costs and gas money for trips for chemo.

Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Detroit Lakes American Legion. A live auction begins at noon, and a silent auction continues throughout the benefit. Donations can be brought to Brend's Repair. An account has also been set up at Wells Fargo for those wishing to donate.

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