Childhood is a time for creating memories. For Norah Derby, her childhood will forever be marked by memories of a journey that tested her strength starting at age eight.
In November 2013, Norah fell while ice skating and later complained of neck pain. As a concerned mother, Lynn Derby took Norah to the emergency room. That day a tumor was found in Norah’s neck bone. It wasn’t until Jan. 2, 2014 at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin that Norah was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – a bone cancer.
The location of Norah’s tumor was very rare. Her treatment included 30 weeks of intense chemotherapy and a surgery to remove the remaining tumor. Knowing that their local hospital in Marinette didn’t have the resources to treat pediatric cancer, Norah’s family had a tough decision to make. In Wisconsin, there are only four hospitals that treat pediatric cancer, one of which is HSHS St. Vincent Hospital.
Shortly after Norah received her first chemo treatment in Milwaukee, the Derby family toured HSHS St. Vincent Hospital, which has a long history of providing pediatric oncology services for Northeast Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was the initial visit with Prevea Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist, Dr. Jon Brandt that helped ease the worries of the Debry family. Keeping their family together was one priority, being closer to home was an additional benefit.
After weeks of chemo, in April 2014, the Derby family traveled to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. for Norah’s 22-hour specialty surgery to remove the remaining tumor in her neck. After a successful surgery, Norah returned to HSHS St. Vincent Hospital to continue her chemo treatments, which she completed in October 2014.
Throughout Norah’s illness, the family has experienced support from family and friends, but the greatest support has come from the oncology team at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital. “We honestly don’t know how we would’ve survived and it’s difficult to find the words to express how thankful we are,” said Chad and Lynn Derby, Norah’s parents. “The care and treatment Norah received saved her life. We have days ahead and futures to plan because we were at St. Vincent.”
Today, ten-year-old Norah continues to be cancer free. She is full of life and loves dancing, swimming, and riding her bike and scooter with her brother, Owen.