“Julia loves making people smile,” said her mom, Valery (pictured above with Julia). “She makes people smile all the time.” But for years, this outgoing girl was prone to spells of fainting, followed by vomiting on regaining consciousness. In searching for a cause, her local doctor did an ultrasound of Julia’s abdomen — and was surprised to find two tumors on her left kidney.
Julia was referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for treatment of a cancer called Wilms tumor, including surgery to remove the affected kidney, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. And at St. Jude, doctors finally determined the reason for Julia’s fainting.
“Their focus was the cancer, but they were also concerned and trying to figure out what was going on with her heart as well,” said Julia’s mom. Unrelated to the Wilms tumor, they discovered a congenital defect that was causing Julia’s heart to stop beating for up to nine seconds at a time, resulting in unconsciousness.
As soon as Julia was cancer-free, she received a pacemaker, and has not passed out since.