A Seattle couple thought their newborn must have been suffering from a bit of indigestion, having a distended tummy for a few weeks of her young life, but they soon learned it was evidence of a much larger problem.
Keenan and Dave Sanders of Kirkland, Washington, found out their daughter wasn't gassy, but had a cantaloupe-sized tumor growing in her stomach.
At only 7 weeks old, little Leighton has already undergone several surgeries, including a couple this week, to detach the 3-pound tumor and remove many of the organs to which it was connected. She weighed less than nine pounds to begin with.
Leighton's parents initially thought her stomach was full of gas. They would later learn it was a 3-pound tumor. (Image source: Caring Bridge)
"When I start to take everything in at once, I can't handle it. I can't listen to it. It becomes too much when I hear every single obstacle that she faces and will face. It's overwhelming," Keenan Sanders told KOMO-TV earlier this week.
According to the family's GoFundMe page, which will help pay for medical bills, the cancerous tumor grew "a mile a minute." The tumor was found only 5 percent cancerous, which means it's less likely there is any other cancer remaining in Leighton's body.
At this point, Leighton is being fed and drained with tubes and will remain in the hospital for "a very long time," with transplants and reconstruction in her future after swelling goes down. Leighton is waiting for a liver and pancreas transplant, but even if they become available, she's too weak to receive the surgeries at the moment.
The baby can cry with her eyes but can't make a sound because the tubes are blocking the way.
Leighton has already had several surgeries to deal with the massive tumor and its effects and more are expected in her future. (Image source: Caring Bridge)
"You never want to see anything like that with your daughter, your baby girl. There's a long battle to go, it's tough, it's tough," Dave Sanders told KOMO.
Watch the news station's report about the parents' heartbreaking discovery:
(H/T: Daily Mail)