Sloan McGillis: A Journey of Inspiration and Resilience

Nothing compares to the pure happiness that comes from welcoming a newborn into your life and family. The most thrilling thing there is, any parent will agree with this is finally getting to meet the bundle of joy you’ve been waiting to meet for nine long months.

Sloan’s parents, Joe and Jennifer McGillis, were happy when she was born in 2015. They had no idea that their baby has a sizable tumor on her face, though, as there were no unusual findings shown on the ultrasound during the pregnancy.

Over the course of the first several years of Sloan’s life, thirteen surgeries were necessary to entirely remove the tumor, which had taken a significant section of her face. Sloan now looks like a completely typical young child. This is her amazing journey.

After being born on February 25, 2015. Baby Sloan’s parents observed a facial growth, prompting her hospitalization at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on the third day. Medical professionals confirmed that the growth was indeed a tumor.

Jennifer, while recounting the initial encounter with Sloan and her tumor, shared with Inside Edition, “They placed her in my arms, and at that moment, I was overcome with shock.”

Joe further explained, “For about a minute, I experienced sheer panic and terror.”

One positive aspect was that Dr. Hardy, the physician overseeing Sloan’s treatment, provided the family with hope and unwavering support throughout their journey.

Jennifer shared on Facebook that upon entering Sloan’s hospital room right after her birth, he glanced at her and confidently stated, “That is a hemangioma, and she will be perfectly fine. Your daughter is going to be alright.” Jennifer expressed that in that moment, after 48 hours of turmoil, she finally felt a sense of relief and could breathe again.

The diagnosis revealed that the growth was identified as a hemangioma, which manifests as reddish or purplish lumps on the skin comprising rapidly proliferating cells from blood vessel walls.

Since these tumors are benign, they can be surgically treated and safely removed. However, like any surgical procedure, there is a possibility of complications arising.

Jennifer conveyed to the Billings Gazette, “When she was born, it felt as hard as a rock. It was akin to having a grapefruit beneath your skin.”

Sloan had a substantial growth on her face, occupying a significant portion that hindered her ability to completely close her mouth. Jennifer explain: “She seems unaware of its presence; she has grown accustomed to it. We have not taken any action to address it for cosmetic reasons.”

The doctors advised a wait-and-see approach, anticipating the tumor might naturally diminish in size over time. However, this decision heightened the parents’ apprehensions, as they were well aware of the potential cruelty of people. They feared the impact of curious gazes on their daughter’s self-assurance.

Joe expressed, “The world can be cruel at times.”

Jennifer further remarked, “In some instances, adults can be more problematic than other children. Many parents of children with hemangioma face false accusations of child abuse.”

In January 2016, Sloan underwent her initial surgical procedure conducted by Dr. Milton Waner at the Vascular Birthmark Institute of New York.

On the day when little Sloan underwent surgery, her mother shared a heartfelt message on social media.

“They had a plan in place, but we understood that it was unrealistic to expect the complete removal of the entire tumor. Mentally preparing oneself to witness your baby with multiple facial incisions, countless sutures, and tubes protruding from their body is an impossible task. Reflecting on this initial experience, my stomach tightens into knots as I recall the moment when I held her in the operating room, seeing the mask covering her face and witnessing her eyes roll back,” Jennifer penned.

“I hoped that wasn’t the last time I held her at that precise moment, as I imagine the majority of parents would feel a wave of anxiety wash over them. Surgery in and of itself can be terrifying, but having to decide whether to have it performed on your child is heartbreaking. Were we acting ethically? Did it become too much for her frail body? Will she be unable to communicate because the pain is too much? “

Fortuitously, the medical professionals successfully eliminated 90 percent of the tumor.

Nonetheless, despite the positive outcome of the initial operation, Sloan was slated to undergo further surgeries, presenting a financial challenge for the family. The predicament arose because Lenox Hill Hospital in New York declined to accept Sloan’s Montana Medicaid insurance.

As the saying goes, raising a child requires the support of a community, and in this particular family’s situation, it took the kindness of several individuals to ensure their daughter received the life she deserved. A bank in Missoula established a medical fund in Sloan’s name, while an online fundraising campaign generated over $30,000. Additionally, the Hannah Storm Foundation successfully raised sufficient funds to cover all of Sloan’s surgeries and hospital expenses in New York. Ultimately, the family managed to raise $100,000 in total.

Jennifer expressed to Missoulian, “All of our worries simply vanished. We no longer had to be concerned about the financial burden associated with all of this.”

Joe chimed in, saying, “They aren’t making donations for our sake, but for her sake. It took us some time to fully grasp that concept. Sloan has transformed us, making us more resilient and compassionate individuals.”

Presently, she bears a striking resemblance to any typical child, and it is inconceivable that she was born with an enormous facial tumor.

“I entered this world with a port wine birthmark stain on my face. Even now, at the age of eight, without makeup, it still appears like a black eye,” disclosed Storm to Inside Edition.

The family expresses gratitude towards all individuals who played a part in Sloan’s recuperation, as well as those who offered support throughout the years. Nevertheless, their heartfelt appreciation is reserved especially for Dr. Hardy, whose role was instrumental in shaping Sloan’s new lease on life.

“As a mother, it’s challenging for me to adequately express the depth of gratitude I feel towards Dr. Hardy. He may never fully comprehend the profound impact he has had on Sloan, myself, and our entire family,” wrote Jeniffer McGillis. “Thank you for undertaking actions on behalf of my daughter that we, as her parents, were unable to accomplish. I appreciate our monthly appointments, which I eagerly anticipated even more than Sloan did. You have truly become a dear friend to me.”

We are overjoyed that everything has worked out exceptionally well for Sloan and her family.

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