Wednesday, 29 March 2023

Breeden family has hope for a Christmas miracle

She is by no means "out of the woods," but her recovery is not out of the question.

Her parents, Dave and Renada Breeden, say that even Karlie's doctors observe that what is happening in the case of the irrepressible little girl from Cobb is something that "has never happened" and that "they never saw anything like this before."

Thus, the gloom - "brain stem gloom" is the generic name for Karlie's condition - has been replaced by bright new hope on Christmas eve, 2006.

"I feel like I got the miracle I prayed for, although I know we still got stuff to go through," says David, who with Renada first discussed the possibility that Karlie had less than a year to live in September.

"I have a different outlook on miracles and I have a different outlook on God. I believe in him now," says Renada.

The outlook for Karlie began to turn around on Sept. 29. That day David and Renada took their daughter to Oakland Children's Hospital for an examination by Dr. Peter Sun, a neurosurgeon, and Dr. Joseph Torkelson, an oncologist. The visit was prompted by the report of a radiologist who said that, despite constant treatment, Karlie's tumor was growing again.

The Breedens had no reason to doubt the radiologist's diagnosis.

"The way things were going we thought, 'What the hell,'" said Renada. "She'd been stumbling again and we thought the tumor was growing again."

They were of such mind when Sun and Torkelson finished their examination and told them to sit down. They remembered they had solemnly been told to sit down before - the day they were informed that Karlie was suspected of having Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, the medical name for her condition..

Then, one of the doctors said, "We have good news and we have bad news."

Of all things, Sun and Torkelson discovered a cyst was what was growing in Karlie's head. Not the tumor. For all intents and purposes a cyst was the "miracle" that has raised new hopes.
Yes, it was this growth that was making her lose her balance, they said. But, as a weapon in the body's immune system, it also had wrapped itself around the tumor and gotten a death grip.

The cyst, Renada explained, had sucked the tumor out of the pons area of the brain, which controls breathing, heartbeat, the digestive system and other functions critical to life.

An MRI followed in which Sun and Torkelson "mapped out everything that was in Karlie's head" and surgery to remove the cyst followed that.

"The surgery was nine hours," Renada said. "About every hour and a half they would call us and tell us how she was doing throughout the day. Every time they'd call they would say she's fine. Her blood pressure never dropped, her heart rate never dropped.

"So, even though we were in this situation, we thought everything is going to be OK."

When the surgery was finished, Sun told David, Renada, Renada's mother and other family members present, "I got it out."

The doctors also told the Breedens that at "Stage Four," the stage Karlie's condition had reached, "This doesn't happen," said Renada.

"I read about it online and Stage Four is when you have 12 months or less to live. But I also read that in stage one and two sometimes your body creates cysts because your body is trying to fight it off."

Karlie Breeden taking some time out for fun her brother Brody.
Karlie Breeden taking some time out for fun with her brother Brody.

The Breedens say that "it's not over yet" for Karlie and that they have been given no indication by examining physicians that their little girl is going to survive.

"They said there's still gotta be (cancer) cells in there, but that can be taken care of with chemotherapy," said Renada.

With Karlie, her two-year-old brother Brody and one of Karlie's friends all but making the Breedens small home in the Cobb mountains rock, David looked back at the work of Sun and Torkelson.

"It's great what they did," he said. "Otherwise Karlie would have been dead within a month."

Renada remembered a conversation with a doctor's assistant shortly after Karlie's original diagnosis in which the woman said, "There's nothing we can do for her." Renada said she told the woman, "I know you guys think you know what you know because of what you see, but you're wrong. This isn't how it's going to go for us."

Now, Renada says, Karlie is taking horseback riding lessons, thanks to a donation from Upper Lake's "Shirt Off Your Back" event and life has gotten back to fairly normal for the Breedens. Well, if you discount the gatherings of up to 400 people that have been held for the Breedens in Lake County and elsewhere.

"Everybody wants to see us," Renada adds. " A lot of churches around the area have gotten involved, and all the preachers we have seen in Lake County feel that God is really here.

"People really feel that we are having a miracle."


You can learn more about Karlie Breeden by logging onto To date, there have been more than 600 hits on this website.

E-mail John Lindblom at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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