Gabby’s Story

Gabby, her Pop-Pop and her sister Madison on Easter Sunday 2011 (from right)

From right: Gabby, her Pop-Pop & her sister, Madison, on Easter Sunday 2011

Gabriella Martha Vogel
10/9/2005- 9/11/2011

Gabriella “Gabby” was a beautiful little five year old girl. She was the youngest of three sisters living in Phoenixville, PA. She was in a Pre-K program at Zion Lutheran Preschool in Spring City. She had just recently been tested and enrolled to attend Kindergarten in the fall of 2011. Gabby could swing on her swing set for hours, she loved to play with her dolls, and she wanted to grow up to be a doctor ballerina. She was a typical little princess until one day her life changed.

Gabby started having trouble with her balance in her gymnastics class. Her speech had become labored and quiet. After identifying some of these concerns her family began taking her to a series of doctors to have her tested for what could be the problem.

On Memorial Day 2011, Gabby woke up and was very lethargic. She didn’t want to play with her sisters and she was having more trouble with her balance and walking on her own. Her parents took her to the Emergency Department at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She was admitted to the hospital for further testing. The next morning during an MRI, she was diagnosed with inoperable tumors on her brain stem, her hypothalamus, and her cerebellum. On Friday, she had brain surgery to biopsy part of the tumor. The biopsy results came back: The tumor was a malignant and “explosively agressive”. She was officially diagnosed with Diffuse Intra Pontine Glioma (DIPG) that had infiltrated much of her brain that is essential for life.

After careful consideration, Gabby’s treatment continued at CHOP with daily doses of chemotherapy and radiation treatment on her brain stem. She began her treatment on June 15th and it lasted through July. In August, Gabby was able to spend some time outside of the hospital, spending time on a couple of short vacations with her family. Those were interrupted with trips back to the emergency room for complications related to her treatment.
On Labor Day weekend, she returned to the hospital and shortly after being admitted, she had a series of seizures. Brain scans showed that her tumor had continued to grow throughout the summer, and now had invaded new areas of her brain. She was released to hospice care at her home and was taken to heaven at 8pm on September 11th while her family was by her side.

Gabby will always be remembered for her spunky spirit, her love for princesses, swinging on the swings, wearing sparkly shoes, and her love for the color pink.

She was an exceptionally strong and brave girl during her battle with cancer. She would tell her parents that when she was six, she wouldn’t be sick anymore. Unfortunately she passed away just a month before she celebrated her sixth birthday.

Gabby always “Believed” that she would get better. Throughout her journey her motto became BELIEVE. Her family has been inspired by her to create a foundation in her memory. To keep believing and help find a cure so no family has to endure what Gabby and her family did.

Believe in a Cure