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Belize girl heads home after successful tumor removal and chemo

3:54 PM, Nov 21, 2012   |    comments
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Catarina Ishim will return to Belize Friday.

We've followed the story of a little girl from Belize who came to Knoxville last spring.

She needed treatment for a tumor on her face the size of a watermelon.

She's about to return to her home country but not before she visited the Fantasy of Trees.

"Today we are very happy to be here," Juan Ishim said.

The Fantasy of Trees is quite a spectacle especially for visitors from a small village in Belize.

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I could just turn and see Christmas tree, Christmas tree, Christmas lights. Everything is just beautiful," Ishim said.

Lori Glover explained, "They just got electricity a year ago so just seeing the bright lights is an amazing thing for them."

Lori and Rick Glover have been the host family for Juan Ishim and his granddaughter Catarina. Dr. Rick Glover is the pediatrician who coordinated her medical care here.

"Their faith is amazing," Lori Glover said. "They've gone through trials of things that not many people could handle."

A team of doctors from Children's Hospital and the University of Tennessee Medical Center volunteered in her successful treatment. It required removal of a large tumor, plastic surgery, and chemotherapy. They have fitted her with a prosthetic nose.

"Her whole nation has followed her, the story of Catarina, and they're all excited about her return," Glover said.

Ishim said, "She is very excited to go home."

They will head home this Friday to see her parents for the first time in eight months. They will travel the day after Thanksgiving.

"Tomorrow will be American Thanksgiving and I am very happy to be a part of it," he said.

He is especially thankful for Catarina's good health.

"I know the doctors and the nurses, they work long hours. They are very tireless. I cannot do anything to pay them or whatever but I know God will reward them," he said. "I will always remember them in my prayers."

She'll receive follow up care in Belize and has no plans to return to the United States. But the Ishims and the Glovers plan to keep in touch.

"She is really going to miss Lori and Dr. Rick. They are our host family. I think she's getting sad. We will be missing them. We will be leaving them," Ishim said.

Glover said, "They've been a blessing to us, and absolute blessing."

Over the past decade, Dr. Rick Glover has brought more than 10 children from other countries to Children's Hospital for treatment.

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