An 18-year-old who recently gave birth after being diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor is going Mexico for experimental treatment as there are no other options on US soil.
Dana Scatton, of Pennsylvania, was given three to nine months to live in December after she was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a disease with less than one percent chance for survival, while seven months pregnant.
The disease primarily affects about 300 children each year and is most commonly found in children younger than 10 years old, making her case extremely rare.
The teen gave birth to baby girl Aries Marie on January 4, a month early so she could undergo several round of radiation to halt the progression of the rapidly growing tumor without harming the child.
Last week, after completing radiation on February 1, her family decided their best option now is to head to an increasingly sought-after clinic in Mexico, which offers the only experimental treatment in the world for DIPG, in a bid to extend Dana's life.
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Dana Scatton, 18, gave birth to her daughter Aries Marie at 33 weeks (pictured) after undergoing several rounds of radiation
The teen (pictured hours after giving birth) from Pennsylvania was diagnosed with a rare and inoperable brain tumor in December while seven months pregnant
DIPG tumors usually start in the brain stem, the part of the organ that's located just above the back of the neck and connected to the spine. It controls breathing, nerves and muscles that help people see, hear, walk, talk and eat.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for the disease and scant treatment options due to lack of funding for research.
It is a vicious cycle: organizations are reluctant to fund research into something that seems so untreatable; most funding into child cancers goes to leukemia, which is the most researched child cancer.
Without funding and research, it will remain mysterious - and in turn, it will remain difficult for researchers to get funding to dispel the mystery.
Due to the tumor's location in Dana's brain, it has started taking over her motor functions - making it more difficult for her to walk, talk and breathe.
However, Dana and her family received good news earlier this month when results from her MRI scan, following her radiation treatments, revealed it has shrunk 'with no signs of blocking her pons,' the part of the brain involved in the control of breathing, communication and balance.
Now the family plans on going to Mexico for experimental chemotherapy treatment.
'Leading up to this appointment, we’ve been discussing what treatment is going to be best for Dana,' her family wrote on Dana's Facebook page.
'This was a huge decision. Any family going through this understands the process behind making this decision. However we once again put our faith in God to show us the way. And we believe He has pointed us towards Dr Siller and the team in Mexico,' it read.
Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is a rare type of brain tumor that can't be operated on because of it's location within a crucial part of the brain, called the pons.
This area is responsible for a number of critical bodily functions, such as breathing, sleeping and blood pressure.
The high-grade brain tumor, which mostly affects children, tends to grow quickly and often spreads to other parts of the brain or spinal cord.
Most diagnoses occur in youngsters between the ages of five and 10. The cause of the tumor remains unknown.
More than 90 percent of its victims will die within 18 months of diagnosis, according to figures.
Each year, there are around 100 to 150 new diagnoses in the US. In the UK, it strikes between 20 and 30 each year.
Symptoms include lack of facial control, double vision, headaches, vomiting, weakness, seizures and balance problems.
One of the early indicators of the cancer is a child falling, tripping or losing balance.
According to the National Cancer Institute, clinical trials have shown that traditional chemotherapy aren't effective.
As a result, many parents of DIPG patients from all over the