QH. Sloan entered the world with a giant tumor on her face, but overcoming everything, she had a determined journey to victory, inspiring millions of hearts.
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QH. Sloan entered the world with a giant tumor on her face, but overcoming everything, she had a determined journey to victory, inspiring millions of hearts.

The joy of welcoming a newborn into your family is a feeling like no other. It’s a moment of pure happiness, anticipation, and wonder. For Joe and Jennifer McGillis, the birth of their daughter Sloan in 2015 was a moment they had eagerly awaited for nine long months. Little did they know that their journey with Sloan would be a remarkable one, filled with challenges and triumphs that would touch the hearts of many.

Sloan entered the world on February 25, 2015, bringing with her an unexpected twist. Shortly after her birth, her parents noticed a growth on her face that prompted her hospitalization in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It was a moment of shock and uncertainty for Jennifer, who recalls, “They placed her in my arms, and at that moment, I was overcome with shock.” Joe, too, experienced a moment of sheer panic and terror.

Their saving grace came in the form of Dr. Hardy, the compassionate physician overseeing Sloan’s care. With unwavering support and a reassuring smile, he told the worried parents, “That is a hemangioma, and she will be perfectly fine. Your daughter is going to be alright.” It was a moment of relief after 48 hours of turmoil.

The diagnosis revealed that Sloan’s facial growth was a hemangioma, a collection of rapidly proliferating cells from blood vessel walls that manifest as reddish or purplish lumps on the skin. While these tumors are typically benign, they can be surgically removed, not without potential complications.

Sloan’s hemangioma was significant, occupying a substantial portion of her face and affecting her ability to close her mouth fully. Despite its size, her parents opted not to address it immediately for cosmetic reasons, instead choosing to wait and see if it would naturally diminish over time. They knew that curious gazes from others could potentially impact their daughter’s self-confidence, but they also knew that the world could be cruel.

In January 2016, Sloan underwent her first surgical procedure at the Vascular Birthmark Institute of New York, performed by Dr. Milton Waner. It was a heart-wrenching experience for Jennifer, who vividly recalled the moment she held her baby in the operating room, seeing the mask covering Sloan’s face and her eyes rolling back.

Fortunately, the surgery was successful in removing 90 percent of the tumor, but it was just the beginning of Sloan’s journey. More surgeries lay ahead, presenting a financial challenge for the family. Lenox Hill Hospital in New York declined to accept Sloan’s Montana Medicaid insurance, leaving the family in a precarious situation.

In times like these, it takes a community to raise a child, and Sloan’s story is no exception. A bank in Missoula established a medical fund in Sloan’s name, and an online fundraising campaign raised over $30,000. The Hannah Storm Foundation also played a crucial role, raising enough funds to cover all of Sloan’s surgeries and hospital expenses in New York. In total, the family raised $100,000.
Jennifer expressed the family’s immense gratitude, saying, “All of our worries simply vanished. We no longer had to be concerned about the financial burden associated with all of this.” Joe added, “They aren’t making donations for our sake, but for her sake. Sloan has transformed us, making us more resilient and compassionate individuals.”

Today, Sloan looks like any typical child, and it’s hard to imagine that she was born with an enormous facial tumor. Her journey has been one of resilience, love, and community support. She is a living testament to the power of hope, the strength of family, and the kindness of strangers.

As Jennifer wrote, “Thank you for undertaking actions on behalf of my daughter that we, as her parents, were unable to accomplish. You have truly become a dear friend to me.” Sloan’s journey is a reminder that, with the right support and determination, even the most challenging obstacles can be overcome. We are overjoyed that everything has worked out exceptionally well for Sloan and her family.

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