Guy and Kimberly Nickels • Friona, TX
"Dr. Jubay is our hero ... He saved our baby's life."
Guy and Kimberly Nickels consider themselves blessed. They have been married six years and are parents to a beautiful 15 month old girl, Jayci Joy.
Like most small children, Jayci had her share of ailments, especially in her respiratory system. One day last February Mrs. Nickels brought Jayci to see Dr. Felipe Jubay; she had a persistent fever. Upon examination he discovered she had abnormal breath sounds and ordered a chest x-ray as part of her treatment. The x-ray revealed a mass somewhere in or around her right lung. Dr. Jubay was concerned that it was a tumor, and a phone call to the radiologist reading the x-ray confirmed his suspicion. Mrs. Nickels chose to be referred to Lubbock, where Jayci's pediatrician was located. That night, Jayci was admitted to the hospital (in Lubbock) and treated for RSV and pneumonia. According to Mrs. Nickels, the pediatrician in Lubbock looked at the x-ray and immediately ruled out cancer, saying the spot was pneumonia. Although Dr. Jubay recommended a CT scan, one was never performed.
Six weeks later another x-ray revealed the mass was significantly larger, and this time the Nickels' were told by the same pediatrician it was Jayci's thymus gland and it was swollen simply because she had been so sick. During the six weeks between the x-rays, Mr. and Mrs. Nickels visited the doctor many times, asking again and again if he was certain of her condition, asking many questions, including why her breathing seemed so labored and shallow. Mrs. Nickels was told by the pediatrician that Jayci is a smart girl and was playing with her breathing.
One fateful Sunday evening in June, Jayci and her mother made another visit to Dr. Jubay, this time to the ER at PCCH. Jayci was fussy and running a fever. "Priscilla Hicks, a long time family friend, was working that night. She took a look at Jayci and seemed alarmed," said Mrs. Nickels. She recounts that Dr. Jubay showed up quickly. "The ER was busy that night, and I didn't realize the reason Dr. Jubay showed up so quickly was because of Jayci. I never imagined she was that sick."
According to Dr. Jubay, examination revealed the baby had diminished breath sounds in her right lung, and noted she was grunting when she breathed. He ordered another chest x-ray which revealed the tumor had grown very large.
"I remember Dr. Jubay asked me who was treating Jayci for her tumor," said Mrs. Nickels. "I told him that it wasn't cancer after all, and his face just dropped. He asked me if we could reach my husband, and I called him. He talked to us both, with Guy on speakerphone."
Dr. Jubay recalls that night. "I urged them to get a second opinion." He referred them to BSA in Amarillo. Dr. Jubay arranged for Jayci and her mom to be transported by ambulance, sending the x-ray with the paramedics. Her husband joined them in Amarillo.
"When they opened the doors to the ambulance and a team of five greeted us, I knew it was serious," said Mrs. Nickels.
The first priority of the team was to get a CT scan of Jayci's chest. Mrs. Nickels recalls how tired the baby was, but she was fighting going to sleep. Because a CT scan requires the patient to be very still during the procedure, she was given a sedative.
"As soon as she went to sleep, she stopped breathing," said Mrs. Nickels. "I was holding her when it happened. Her little fingers curled in and she turned blue." Jayci was quickly intubated, a respirator doing her breathing for her. That night Dr. Habersang (her new Pediatric Internist), stayed with Jayci and monitored her all night.
After she was stabilized and the CT scan performed, Dr. Habersang and Dr. Turner (Oncologist) gave them the news. Jayci's tumor was found to be neuroblastoma; it was cancerous and was inoperable. The tumor was so large that it had displaced her heart, her esophagus and her left lung, moving everything to the left. The good news is that the cancer had not spread; according to Mrs. Nickels it was found to be Stage III and has a high cure rate.
Jayci began her first round of chemotherapy on June 29th. On more than one occasion, when Jayci suffered some significant set backs, Dr. Habersang and Dr. Turner would stay, monitor Jayci, and sometimes pray with them. In spite of these setbacks, Jayci's prognosis is good. The x-ray taken after her first round of chemo revealed good news; the tumor is now significantly smaller in size and much less dense. Jayci was taken off her ventilator on July 4, Independence Day and been through a second round of chemo. Everyone is hoping and praying the next x-ray will show even more progress.
"She was an in vitro baby, and now this," says Jayci's mom. "She is a miracle baby twice."
The team of doctors treating Jayci today; Dr. Turner, Dr. Reguira and Dr. Habersang are all people Dr. Jubay recommended.
"We know now Dr. Jubay caught it at Stage I back in February. If they had only listened to him, it would have been a walk in the park,"said Mrs. Nickels.
"Dr. Jubay is our hero," she says … "He saved our baby's life."