Arden Quinn Bucher was a vibrant, intelligent, endearing little girl. To all who knew her well, she was a healthy, happy, energetic preschooler with a quick wit and an active imagination. She enjoyed playing on her swing set, solving puzzles, sweetly singing in her music class, swimming, reading, coloring, and painting. She loved counting as well as saying the alphabet, and she could even write her own name. She was a happy, loving individual, always ready to share a hug or a hand with her friends. Prior to her diagnosis on October 11 2007, she slept well, had a great appetite, and had boundless energy. She was very brave and kept smiling throughout her difficult months of treatment.
On that fateful Tuesday night in October of 2007, Arden woke up suddenly, screaming in pain, covered in sweat, with a temperature of 93 F. She was rushed to the nearest ER. It was one month before her 3rd birthday. After an abdominal X-Ray and lots of waiting, we were told to go home and follow up with the pediatrician in the morning. The next day, Arden was more herself, and the pediatrician said that she should start on medication to rule out constipation. The doctor also provided a list of things to watch for. Sure enough, by Thursday morning, Arden was very still, didn’t want to be moved, had no appetite, and a low-grade fever. We took her to A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE, and after a series of tests, doctors found a tumor measuring approximately 10 x 6 cm in her abdomen. Further testing confirmed that Arden had stage IV high risk Neuroblastoma.
Throughout her 8 months of aggressive treatment at A.I. duPont and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) per the "gold standard" protocol, we saw that our little girl had a fighting spirit as well as a compassionate nature. She was always concerned about how the other children in the hospital were doing, often wanting to draw pictures or make crafts to cheer them up. By July of 2008, after her second stem cell rescue, she was fighting for her life on an oscillator and ventilator in the PICU at CHOP for five weeks, having gone into respiratory failure after contracting Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in the hospital (which presents as a bad cold to most of us with normal immune systems.) She developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) and Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS), yet no one, not her parents, family, friends, supporters, or world-class doctors ever gave up hope for her recovery. Finally, on August 30 2008, despite all efforts to the very end to save her, Arden's journey ended peacefully and painlessly, with her Mommy and Daddy by her side, finally able to hold her and rock her as they said goodbye. She remains with us every day in our hearts and minds as we transfer our hopes for her survival to all of the other children who are still fighting.