Sunday August 25, 2013 08:45 AM EDT
Cancer Surgery a Success for 'Send Pizza' Girl Hazel Hammersley
by Howard BreuerHazel Hammersley, the 2-year-old cancer patient who became an Internet sensation after her mom wrote "SEND PIZZA" in the window of her room at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, had successful surgery and will soon head home.
"I'm so relieved," said Laura Hammersley, of Simi Valley, Calif., who described how her daughter Hazel groggily nodded her head when she heard that her stage-3 neuroblastoma had been removed. "She really is a courageous little girl."
Officials at Children's Hospital say that, although doctors successfully removed the neuroblastoma on Aug. 21, Hazel has more procedures ahead including a stem cell transplant, radiation therapy and more chemo, and it is uncertain if the cancer is gone for good.
Her surgeon, David Bliss, called the five-hour operation a success, saying "we were able to achieve all of our surgical goals and to give Hazel the best opportunity to continue her journey towards a cure."
Hammersley said that her daughter's cancer battle has been an exhausting experience, and it feels like they've spent more time in the hospital this year than at home. She said that when she used medical tape last month to write on the window of her daughter's room, "SEND PIZZA RM 4112," she was just trying to create some levity.
But after someone posted a photo of the sign on Reddit, pizzas started arriving at the room, and the story lit up the Internet. The family's blog, Our Little Hazelnut, got 70,000 hits in one day. Their Facebook page has nearly 11,000 likes. People from around the world have shared well wishes, donations and prayers. The publicity also raised money and awareness for the Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation.
Hammersley says that although the world of childhood cancer "can be a very sad and depressing place," she now realizes that, by posting that sign, she jarred people into realizing that these are not just statistics, but "real children who are so full of life who want to go on and have a happy life."
She says that, within a few days, after Hazel recovers and returns home, "We'll have a big pizza party."