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Living life to its fullest
NORTH BEND - Kylie Aberle spent the first two years of her life battling cancer, but the only reminders she has of the ordeal are a scar across her chest and different colored eyes.
In fact, 7-year-old Kylie remembers little of the surgery and treatment because of her young age at the time, though she knows she was sick and spent time in the hospital. She understands that her resolve to beat the disease was special and she knows the reason she has one blue eye and one brown is because a cancerous tumor in her chest affected her spinal cord and somehow cut off the pigment to the blue eye.
It's those sparkling eyes that remind Kylie's parents, Maren and Janelle Aberle, of a tough, two-year period in their lives.
"When I look at her and I see those two different-colored eyes, it's a daily reminder of how lucky we are," said Maren.
On April 7, 1995, Maren gave birth to the couple's first child, Kylie. After two pediatricians and a specialist checked Kylie shortly after her birth, she was released from the hospital and the family went home to start a new life.
A week later a doctor from the hospital called to say that something in Kylie's tests was odd and that she should be brought back to the hospital for a second look. The family would be in and out of the hospital for the next two years.
"She had a tumor the size of a fist and she was just an infant," said Maren.
Less than three weeks old, Kylie found herself in a five-hour surgery to remove the tumor. The operation was deemed a success and Kylie returned to the hospital regularly for tests to ensure the tumor did not return.
In August of that year, doctors broke the news that Kylie's tumor had returned and it was twice as big as the original. To make matters worse the neuroblastoma - a form of cancer that occurs in infants and children, but rarely in adults - was beginning to wrap around Kylie's spine.
"They said if we'd waited one month more she'd be a quadriplegic," said Maren. "We have little angels all around looking over us."