One Family Remains Strong as 1 Child Battles Cancer and the Father Fights Kidney Failure

ROCK FEATHERS — For 3-year-old Ivie Tate and her family, going to the doctor’s office for treatment is just something they’ve done often for a long time.

It’s been about a year since SweetwaterNOW last checked in with Ivie Tate and her family to see how things were going. Last year, Ivie was treated for a cancer spot on her lung of about 6.6 centimeters. At the time, the family still didn’t know whether Ivie needed surgery or not.

Shortly after Ivie’s first birthday, she was diagnosed with cancer. Since then, the family has been constantly in and out of doctor’s appointments. Earlier this year, Ivie had surgery to remove the tumor in her right lung, her mother Mercedes Guilford said.

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During the surgery, the doctors noticed that smaller tumors were visible around the larger tumor they were removing. After noticing the smaller tumors, Ivie restarted chemotherapy treatments to get rid of them.

May 2, 2021 was a great day for Ivie as it was the last day of chemotherapy treatment. Everyone in the family was thrilled.

“We were planning a big party for her latest scan,” said Mercedes.

The celebration soon turned to disappointment, when the scans came back and revealed another tumor on Ivie’s lung. This tumor is located in the same spot where one of the smaller tumors was previously located.

Again, Ivie was back in the hospital, but this time for 12 rounds of radiation prior to surgery this week. Ivie started the radiations on July 7th and ended them on July 22nd. The radiation treatments are designed to shrink the tumor so that doctors don’t have to remove as much lung during surgery. The next surgery Ivie will have will be a major one. The doctors will remove not only part of her lung, but also part of at least three ribs because of the location of the cancer.

So far, Ivie has had three major surgeries and 10 minor procedures since she was diagnosed.

After Ivie’s surgery, they were allowed to stay in Primary Children’s in Salt Lake City for up to a month. As Ivie grows up, she is more aware of what is going on.

“She is definitely at the age where she understands things,” said Mercedes.

Despite repeated treatments, Ivie is generally a fairly happy kid, but she’s starting to hate going to the doctor’s office, Mercedes said.

Antwon and Ivie fall asleep while they wait in the hospital. Courtesy photo

Another family diagnosis

With all the treatments for Ivie, the family didn’t pay too much attention to the stomach problems of Ivie’s father, Antwon.

“He started having problems a few months ago,” said Mercedes.

Antwon was vomiting, had a stomachache and was generally not feeling well. By the end of July it only got worse, Antwon was lethargic and couldn’t even hold the water down. After returning home from Ivie’s chemo treatments, Mercedes said she forced her husband to go to the hospital.

“I pretty much had to drag him there at the end of last month,” said Mercedes.

It’s a good thing she did, because they found out that Antwon has had kidney failure for at least a year. Mercedes said they also discovered he had undiagnosed high blood pressure, which eventually led to kidney failure. The doctors said it was so bad they were surprised that Antwon hadn’t suffered a stroke or heart attack as a result.

Antwon is on dialysis because both kidneys are only functioning at less than 10 percent. Antwon visits Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater County daily for dialysis treatments. He will continue to do this until he can complete the dialysis treatments at home on his own. Each treatment lasts 8 to 10 hours.

Mercedes said Antwon is on a very strict diet and blood pressure medication. He is currently on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.

Aiva, Ivie and Nova enjoy a nice moment together. Courtesy photo

Trying to stay strong

Despite everything that is going on, the family tries to stay strong for each other. Mercedes said their oldest child, Aiva Tate, 7, has been so supportive and understanding of what is happening to her younger sister.

“She’s a great big sister, though,” said Mercedes. “She does everything Ivie wants to do.”

Aiva is not only great with Ivie, but also with her four-month-old sister Nova.

With a newborn in the house and two family members in need of medical attention, Mercedes is busy.

“It’s definitely hard sometimes,” she said.

“It’s just something I have to do, I think,” said Mercedes. “I have to make sure they are taken care of.”

However, she knows that she must stay strong for her family. Antwon said his family keeps him strong. Although both Ivie and Antwon are on Medicaid, the bills are starting to pile up. Antwon has just been approved for Medicaid, so any bills prior to his approval will not be covered, she explained.

The family asks for emotional support and if someone wants to make a financial contribution, they will accept it. Visit the family’s Facebook page for more information or to give words of encouragement.

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