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Simmons doing well in cancer fight
Shes back practicing soccer, taking frequent breaks
Riley Simmons - photo by Photo Contributed

Ripon’s Riley Simmons — a Colony Oak School fifth grader — continues her fight against brain cancer with the family receiving good news from doctors this past week, according to her grandmother Sandy Thornell Hodges.

“There is no sign of any bad stuff going on in her head or spine.  I can’t tell you how relieved and happy we were to get that news,” she said online. 

Her blood count had dropped to zero with her immune system from the last round of chemotherapy treatments but she has bounced back, actually tolerating it very well, her grandmother wrote.

She said Riley reported back to the University of San Francisco Medical Center on Monday, June 24, with her first full scan in months.  The doctors were very happy with the results.

“Recently she participated in her first soccer practice since her diagnosis.  She was all smiles out on the field with her friends.  And, although she needed frequent breaks, she did great,” Hodges said.

Riley’s treatments are scheduled to last through the middle of next year.

Near the end of November of 2012 the girl’s family noticed she was acting abnormally with headaches, dizziness on the soccer field and a drop off in her coordination.  A doctor initially felt it was being caused by hypertension.

It was in taking her to an ophthalmologist for her eyes that a swelling optic nerve was located that led to the discovery of the brain tumor.  On Dec. 4, Riley was in surgery for nine hours to remove the mass with a total resection of the tumor.  But then she was stricken with Posterior Fossa Syndrome which left her unable to speak and difficulty in eating and drinking.

Her grandmother explained that the cancerous tumor is known as medulloblastoma which, she said, falls into the middle risk category.  Left untreated it has a 90 percent chance of reoccurring.  Successful treatments have resulted in an 80 percent cure rate.

Her medical team determined that her course of treatment would require a regimen of radiation and chemotherapy for the cancer along with extensive speech, occupational and physical therapy for the syndrome.  The full course of treatment has consisted of both inpatient and outpatient visits to the San Francisco hospital.

Riley has had community support both in Ripon and in Manteca on and off of the soccer field.  Several large fund raisers have been held in a monetary support of her family that has allowed her parents to be with her at home and in the hospital.