SURGERY BEGINS: Doctors working to remove tumour from ‘Epic E’

CORNWALL, Ontario – Like a tough prize fighter, Eleanor Dore is in the battle of her life – and ready to unleash a few punches of her own.

The little baby who at just six months old was diagnosed with a massive abdominal tumour – half the size of a volleyball, and growing – has already undergone one marathon surgery and another is underway Monday.

She’s not even a year old yet, and ‘Epic E’ as they’re calling her, is already a medical marvel. The tumour that bloated her stomach measured 20 cm and concerned doctors to the point that a U.S. specialist in Texas had to request multiple samples to determine the severity of her condition.

Doctors removed much of the benign tumour this spring – reducing the size of her tiny stomach to 43 cm from the nearly 60 cm circumference she endured previously.

Her parents Annie Wheeler and Justin Dore were thrilled at the time, but the tumour endured and within a month had returned with gusto.

“We went back to CHEO and told them we thought it was back. But they said that wasn’t possible,” said Wheeler. “But sure enough they did an ultrasound and it was back.”

At the time doctors avoided removing the entire tumour, because it had attacked Eleanor’s tiny liver to the point that it would have to be taken out as well – requiring a transplant that was not readily available.

“We thought, ‘How can this be happening again?'” said Wheeler. “But at the same time we thought she has done this once before, and she’ll be okay.”

Posts in a Facebook group dedicated to Eleanor Monday suggested surgery had begun and was going well.

But there have some bumps in the last few weeks.

Two weeks ago she was airlifted to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. On the trip her vital signs plummeted.

“The reason we came to Toronto is because they said the surgery needed to be done (immediately),” said Wheeler. “Her stats went really low.”

But Eleanor has rallied. Big time.

In the last two weeks her condition has improved. She’ll still need the tumour removed, but her liver has grown to the point that doctors no longer think she’ll require a transplant.

So, the plan is to remove the entire tumour, and leave a small piece of her liver intact – the only organ in the body that can regenerate.

The family, understandably, has been through the wringer.

“We used to be a family that would snuggle in bed at night,” said Wheeler, who along with Dore also have an older daughter Ruby, age four. “Now the girls can’t even be together in case Eleanor gets sick.

“It’s been super tough.”

Wheeler remains on maternity leave, while Dore is on a special Employment Insurance program afforded to parents caring for sick children.

A fundraising campaign for the family has been set up online, and details can be found here.

There are also updates on Facebook.

Through all of the trials, Wheeler said her daughter has been fighting the good fight.

“All the doctors and nurses…they can’t believe how happy and strong she is,” she said.

Eleanor’s battle even got the attention of Rachel’s Kids in Cornwall, which provided the family with a specially-designed stroller that will allow easy transport for Eleanor when her surgery is completed.

“We can’t believe the support we’ve received,” said Wheeler. “From people we haven’t even met.

“It’s been amazing.”

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