Terra (Ayla) Shepler

Age: Pediatric
Association: Caregiver and Mother to Ayla
Region: California
Cancer: Bilateral Wilms Tumor (nephroblastomat) patient

Written by Terra Shepler

"In this short time, she has already shown us such courage and bravery, that we know will get her through this difficult journey and she will come out to the other side with flying colors"

Monday, May 6th we went to the pediatrician to get Ayla’s belly checked because we felt a small hard lump on the right side of her abdomen. We had a 9 a.m. appointment and by 10 a.m. we were getting a stat ultrasound. As a nurse, I knew something wasn’t right based on the ultrasound techs reaction. The scan was done. She then said “hang tight, I’m going to go talk to the radiologist.”.My heart sunk.She was gone for 30 minutes. Her doctor walked in, and I knew, I knew by her face. I will never forget her face. She said Ayla has a 14 centimeter solid mass on her right kidney and a few smaller ones on her left. I knew from that moment, our lives were going to change. 

From there we were admitted to Children’s Hospital Orange County (CHOC). Tuesday we were transferred to the oncology service. Wednesday was a collaborative team meeting with urology and oncology to come up with a plan. Thursday her port-a-cath was placed. Friday, chemo was started. It was a week long whirlwind. She was diagnosed with Bilateral Wilms Tumor. Her case is unique, in the fact that hers is in both kidneys, when usually it is only unilateral, or on one side only. Only approximately 50 kids in America are diagnosed with bilateral Wilms Tumor each year.

She had 6 weeks of chemo pre-operative, followed by a total right nephrectomy, and a left partial nephrectomy. She is now completing her 25 week chemo regimen and has been a rockstar through it all. Our little girl is STRONG, SMART and will be FIERCE with this fight. In this short time, she has already shown us such courage and bravery, that we know will get her through this difficult journey and she will come out to the other side with flying colors. Wilms, watch out! She’s coming for you!