By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN McKay Fiecke of Winsted is a happy, playful 10-month-old little girl who enjoys being around people.
Even with her recent surgery, which diagnosed a malignant germ cell tumor found in her uterus, and the chemotherapy treatments she is currently undergoing, McKay remains cheerful and very outgoing.
Her parents, Jessica Gutzmann and Ryan Fiecke of Winsted, who are both 2004 Lester Prairie graduates, have had a “rough” time these last few months dealing with their baby’s health issues, but say it’s McKay’s attitude that has made the situation easier for them.
A benefit to support McKay’s parents and help with medical expenses is being planned by the Winsted Lions Club for Sunday, May 22.
The Lions will host a pancake breakfast and silent auction at Holy Trinity School cafeteria from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Gutzmann and Fiecke first noticed something was wrong with McKay at the end of January, when they discovered there was some blood in her diaper.
“We took her in to the clinic and they couldn’t really give us any answers. They said it could be a hormonal thing,” Gutzmann said. “Something that would go away in time.”
McKay’s parents continued to take her back to the doctors, and after several more ultrasounds were done without finding anything, the couple decided to get a second opinion.
“This time, an ultrasound showed a small tumor on her uterus,” Gutzmann said. “It’s kind of attached to her cervix. It’s a very rare thing for a baby to have.”
Only about 2.4 children in one million develop this type of tumor each year. Germ cell tumors account for about 4 percent of all cancers in children and adolescents under the age of 20, according to the Boston Children’s Hospital website.
Germ cell tumors can be malignant (cancerous) or non-malignant (non-cancerous) tumors composed primarily of germ cells. Most ovarian tumors and testicular tumors are of germ cell origin.
On April 1, doctors made a small incision at McKay’s waistline. The doctors removed as much of the tissue as they thought was safe. Because it looked malignant, they decided to put a port in, for chemotherapy treatments, while McKay was still sleeping.
She woke up smiling, laughing, and clapping her hands, according to her parents.
“They (doctors) are pretty sure the tumor is contained to the one area and they will do chemo to try to remove the rest of it, because they wanted to save all of her reproductive organs,” Gutzmann said.
McKay’s first chemo treatment was started April 11. The chemo treatments are every third week and McKay has to be at the hospital for five days. Right now, doctors are telling McKay’s parents she will need four to six treatments.
After her third round of chemo, they will do another CAT scan and if the tumor is gone, only one more chemotherapy treatment will be needed to followup.
Gutzmann and Fiecke have been able to stay with their daughter at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis during her chemo treatments.
Fiecke works at AZZ Galvanizing in Winsted, and the company has been generous about giving Ryan time off to be with his daughter.
Because of McKay’s chemo and doctors’ appointments, Gutzmann has temporarily dropped out of Ridgewater College, where she was studying to be an education assistant.
“She (McKay) is taking the treatments really well,” Gutzmann said. “Actually, she had only one bad day during her first chemo treatment. She just started losing her hair a few days ago. She didn’t have much, but it’s noticeable to us. But she has been doing really well and her blood counts are up and so is her immunity.”
McKay’s prognosis is good, with a 90 percent cure rate, according to Gutzmann.
“As best as it can be, it is,” Gutzman said.
“I have been telling people, if you think there is something wrong with a loved one and you are not getting the answers you need, get a second opinion. We were told this is a pretty aggressive cancer. It’s curable, but it grows fast and if we would have waited it could have been much worse.”