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Girl copes with treatment for large-cell lymphoma

February 12, 2008
Emily Snyder had been a normal, healthy 8-year old girl. Until last summer.

That’s when her parents, Kevin and Jennifer Snyder of Williamsport, began to notice she seemed a bit different, although they didn’t dream it was anything serious.

“We thought she was going through a growth spurt,” said her father, Kevin Snyder, a self-employed carpenter. “She wasn’t interested in doing anything.”

By the fall, she began suffering from symptoms of strep throat and pneumonia — certainly a cause for concern, but still not the level of illness they would soon be battling.

Soon, her lymph nodes began to swell and she experienced pain in the left side of her body.

Her color was bad, but most alarming of all, she had a large lump in her left shoulder area.

At Williamsport Hospital the family received the bad news: Emily had a tumor.

That, her father said, is when everything changed.

Emily was taken to Penn State Hershey Medical Center at the end of October.

But her medical condition only seemed to get worse, recalled her father.

The tumor, he said, caused her kidneys to stop working and her left arm to swell to more than twice its size.

“She started to show improvement the first week of November,” her father said.

About that time, she was put on antibiotics and the chemotherapy treatments began.

And she was enrolled in a study of childhood cancer.

Emily is being treated for anaplastic large-cell lymphoma as part of that study, according to her parents.

Once a week, the family puts all other obligations aside to drive from their Williamsport home to Hershey for Emily’s chemotherapy.

For now, the tumor has disappeared, but the treatments are expected to continue until at least October.

With the illness and the treatments sapping much of her strength, the tiny girl undergoes therapy to help with her physical problems.

“Strengthwise, she’s probably about 60 percent,” her mother said.

Emily, a third-grade student at Jackson Elementary School, still attends school, but also receives some homebound education.

No one is quite sure what caused the lymphoma.

However, some studies show that Epstein Barr, a viral form of mononucleosis, is a possible link, her father noted.

As part of the chemotherapy, Emily receives injections in her spinal fluid.

“She’s always been healthy,” said her mother.

Her prognosis is good and her parents count their blessings.

“She has a lot of good days,” her father said. “We just ask the Lord to give us the strength. It’s been a shock.”

Emily’s mother noted that the community has been very supportive of the family.

A pasta dinner to benefit Emily is set for next month with all proceeds from the event going toward helping the family with the costs of a vehicle for their weekly trips to Hershey.

The dinner, which will include a raffle of items donated by area businesses, will be from 4 to 8 p.m. March 15 at the Woodward Township Vol. Fire Co. social hall.

For more information, call Nancy Pepperman at 601-1630, Ext. 414.

Article Photos

Emily Snyder, 8, daughter of Kevin and Jennifer Snyder of Williamsport, takes a break from playing Frogger on her Gameboy to pose for a photo while her parents are being interviewed at the Snyder home on Thursday evening.



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