Teriah Lost Her Leg And Heart

Published 4:14 pm Tuesday, July 15, 2014

But She's Still Cheering

Last year, Teriah Scott was diagnosed with bone cancer, lost of her right leg and still insisted on cheerleading with the Cumberland Youth League. Little did her family know that she would face even greater medical challenges before the end of 2013. (Submitted photo)

Teriah Scott, now 11, still has a big smile on her face. You’d never know that last year she was diagnosed with bone cancer, lost a leg and had a heart transplant. Now cancer free, she chose her favorite spot at the Cumberland County Public Library for this picture last week. (Photo by Ilsa Loeser)

CUMBERLAND — It had already been a long year for ten-year-old Teriah Scott. Her ankle swelled up unexpectedly in January. What her mother, Terri, thought was only a sprain turned out to be osteosarcoma. Bone cancer.

Email newsletter signup

After months of chemo, the tumor in her ankle still hadn’t grown smaller. So Teriah’s doctor said he wanted to amputate. After a second opinion, her mother realized it was the only viable option.

On April 30, 2013, Teriah lost her right leg.

But, she is a fighter and was walking with crutches in only three days, the fastest recovery time for an amputation to date at the hospital, says her mother. Teriah doesn’t seem to think three days was a big deal. “It felt like a week,” she told The Herald.

Two months later she would receive a temporary prosthetic leg featuring Tinker Bell. “Everybody loved her Tinker Bell leg,” says Terri.

She’d start cheerleading for the Cumberland County youth league. She loved it. But, the chemotherapy continued.

Her mother remembers one night in particular. Teriah cried and cried and screamed, says Terri. They had brought in every machine to scan her. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

“She was in so much pain that morphine was not calming her down. So I knew that something else was wrong,” says Terri.

That’s when she decided to go against doctor’s orders and stop the therapy. “Thank God I did that. It probably would have killed her,” says Terri.

But, at the time, the family didn’t know what was to come. They were ready to celebrate the end of chemotherapy. They took a trip to Disney World.

When Teriah got home, things started going down hill. She had trouble breathing. She threw up. Two weeks before Thanksgiving her mother rushed her to the emergency room. Teriah’s heart was failing. It had been severely damaged by the chemotherapy, the doctor told her.

She was put on the transplant list the beginning of December. Within 36 hours they found a match. They used the governor’s plane to pick up the heart, Teriah explains excitedly. The surgery was Friday the 13th of December.

While waiting for the surgery to start, Teriah drew a picture.

It shows her heart. Above it a bright sun shines down, labeled “God”. There is a lightning bolt between them, labeled “Power”.

Her mother had been waiting an hour or so after the surgery started when a doctor came into the room. She was crying. Terri was afraid her daughter was dead.

The doctor had to share what she had seen.

Usually, once the transplanted heart is sewn into place, small paddles are used to help it start beating again. For Teriah, they didn’t do anything but unclamp the heart and it started beating on its own, the doctor reported.

Terri quickly showed the doctor her daughter’s drawing.

“Look at what she drew,” she points at the picture, “God powered her heart.”

Terri, family members, the doctor, everyone was crying. It was a true Christmas miracle.

Teriah woke up from the surgery before she should have. It was supposed to take a few days for her to regain consciousness, Terri says. Instead, within a couple of hours of the surgery, Teriah was sitting up and asking for chicken nuggets. They had to give her more medicine to put her back to sleep.

She was released from the hospital Christmas Eve.

Teriah is cancer-free now. Her new, permanent prosthetic leg has “skin” on it and toes.

She has been going to summer school to make sure she is caught up with her classmates at Cumberland Middle School when school starts next month. Math and science are her favorite subjects.

She hopes to be a doctor one day. A surgeon, in fact, “to help other patients,” Teriah says.

Short-term, she plans to try out for cheerleading in the middle school.

She now goes to the doctor every other week. Biopsies were every two weeks; now they are every three months.

Her mother works for the Virginia Department of Corrections. She was working there when Teriah was diagnosed. She had insurance at work. But then she had to take a year off and she lost the insurance. There was no one else to go with her daughter during the two-week-long chemotherapy sessions. Terri had to use Medicaid.

Now she is back at work and has insurance again. But, even with insurance, there are ongoing costs: $40 co-pay for specialists, $225 every other week for blood tests.

But, her family, school friends and community have been supportive. Earlier this year, the High Bridge Strutters Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation raised $11,500 at their 2014 Banquet in Farmville for Teriah.

Others are welcome to make donations to “Teriah’s Miracle Fund” at New Horizon Bank in Powhatan.

What helped Teriah’s mom survive? Prayer, she says, “That’s the only thing that helped me get through it.”

She thinks back to the picture Teriah drew. “God did this. Not us.”