Dyllon Gidcumb is almost 2, an active toddler who loves Mickey Mouse, coloring and singing. When his mom, Ashley, was pregnant with Dyllon, she was told he had a 50 percent chance of survival.
Ashley and Joshua Gidcumb went to Ashley’s 20-week ultrasound expecting to find out if they were going to have a boy or a girl. Instead, they heard the words “mass” and “specialist.” They canceled their reveal party, and instead told their family and friends the scary news.
The appointment with a specialist revealed a tumor on the tailbone of their unborn son, who they would later name Dyllon. The tumor—called sacrococcygeal teratoma, or SCT
—grows in utero from the base of the tailbone in the lower back and buttocks of a baby. These tumors can grow quickly and often become quite large, factors that can threaten the life of the fetus.
‘The Best Place for Us’
The Gidcumbs were given the names of three hospitals where they could seek treatment for Dyllon’s SCT. Ashley and Joshua researched each one, ultimately deciding on the Cincinnati Fetal Center
, even though it meant traveling from their home in Evansville, Indiana, more than three hours away. “We found that the Cincinnati Fetal Center had a lot of experience treating this condition,” Ashley said. “When we learned that, we knew it would be the best place for us to go.”
At the Cincinnati Fetal Center, Ashley first underwent several tests including a detailed ultrasound. Her care team assessed the blood supply to the tumor, as well as the tumor’s size and characteristics. After the team reviewed the test results, they met with Ashley and Joshua to discuss the findings. They suggested that Ashley return every two weeks so they could closely monitor the growth of the tumor.
According to Foong-Yen Lim, MD
, pediatric surgeon and surgical director of the Cincinnati Fetal Center, monitoring the growth rate of the SCT is important. “With SCT, the faster the tumor grows and the higher the blood flow through the tumor, the greater the risk is for the fetus to develop heart failure,” Dr. Lim said. “Thus, fetuses with SCT are monitored carefully.”
Time to Move
Ashley’s pregnancy continued to go well in all other respects. One month prior to her scheduled delivery, Ashley, her daughter Aubree, age 3 at the time, and Ashley’s mother-in-law made their temporary move to Cincinnati. Dyllon’s tumor was increasing in size, so her care team at Cincinnati Fetal Center wanted Ashley close by in case she went into labor early.
“We had a delivery plan in place,” Ashley said. “I knew I would need to relocate to Cincinnati before Dyllon was born and that we would be staying for a while afterward. We were also prepared for the chance that he might have to have surgery immediately after his birth.”
On December 11, Dyllon was born three weeks early, a healthy 7 pounds, 2 ounces, including the weight of the tumor. His tumor weighed nearly 3 ounces and was 6 inches long. Five inches of the tumor were inside his abdomen, with 1 inch extending outside of his body off of his tailbone. The good news was that surgery could wait a couple of days since the external portion of his tumor was covered by skin and there was no internal bleeding.
A Lengthy Procedure
Ashley got to see him just briefly, and then Dyllon was taken to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
for further care and management. Two days later, his tumor was removed. The surgery lasted almost eight hours, and required incisions on both his belly and bottom so the surgeons could access the entire tumor. Dyllon did very well with surgery.
As is often the case with SCT, lab results showed the tumor was noncancerous. The Gidcumbs were thrilled. When Ashley finally got to hold Dyllon for the first time, he was 12 days old and her emotions got the best of her. “I cried,” she said. “I was excited and overwhelmed, and I just cried and held him.”
January 5, almost a month after Dyllon was born, was a day of firsts for Dyllon: first day out of the hospital, first day at home, first time meeting his big sister. It’s a day the Gidcumbs will never forget.
“Part of his incision on his bottom opened up,” recalls Ashley. “So we had to take care of that wound for about four months after we got home. But that has healed up since then and he’s doing fine.”
It’s possible the Gidcumbs could decide for Dyllon to have reconstructive surgery on his bottom in the future. “He doesn’t have as much muscle on the left side, so we’ll need to keep an eye on that.” Aside from that, nearly two years later, Dyllon is surpassing expectations. His routine blood tests haven’t indicated any signs of recurrence. His MRI at his one-year checkup was clear. And he’s doing well developmentally, keeping up with other kids his age.
“He has a bubbly personality,” Ashley said. “He’s outgoing. He tries to get into everything. We thought he’d be slower to develop, so we are amazed at his progression.”
Babies born with SCT are monitored for three years after birth. If after three years, there are no signs of additional tumor growth, Dyllon will be considered free of cancer, a milestone the Gidcumbs look forward to celebrating. Until then, they are counting their blessings. Said Ashley, “Words cannot express the gratitude we have for the Cincinnati Fetal Center and the work that they did.”