It could have been a simple, lighthearted tale.
Elizabeth “Betty” Grant, a 76-year-old Mesa resident, knew she had congestive heart failure.
“I’m in the recliner and she kept on pointing at my feet,” Grant said about her 18-month-old great-granddaughter, Hailey Quarles. “At first I thought she meant that I didn’t have shoes on, since putting on her shoes is part of her morning routine.”
But the little girl continued to point at her great-grandmother’s swollen feet as the days continued — and ended up saving her life.
About four days later, Grant was unable to walk or move from her chair. Hailey noticed her grandmother wasn’t playing with her like they normally did when Hailey came to visit, Grant said.
“She started touching my foot, and then pulling back like she’s afraid she’s hurting me,” Grant said. “But it didn’t hurt.”
Eventually, Grant and her husband, Daniel, decided she should go to the hospital to get everything checked out.
Because her husband cannot drive and Grant was unable to make it out the door for Dial-a-Ride, they ordered a non-emergency ambulance.
“During all the commotion, (Hailey) was very interested in all of this,” Grant said. She watched the paramedics and showed them Grant’s feet. “He said, ‘Yes, your grandma can’t walk outside.’”
Later outside her room, Hailey anxiously pointed at the door and wouldn’t relax until she saw Grant’s feet pulled from under the bed sheets.
Finally, her feet were normal and Hailey began to relax.
“She’s my little guardian angel,” Grant said.
It could have ended there. Little Hailey saved her great-grandmother’s life by pointing out the excess fluid in her feet and prompting her to see a doctor.
But the story isn’t over.
It turned out that Grant also had a small lesion on her abdomen, just below her right breast.
“I was thinking it was just a cut from the underwire on my bra,” Grant said. “But I told the doctor about it, and how it wouldn’t heal.”
After a biopsy, it turned out that the small cut was actually stage three breast cancer.
“It was the actual cancer coming through,” Grant said. “I had never heard of that before. With breast cancer, I always had heard about lumps, but not this.”
Grant is recovering from a mastectomy and waiting to determine the next step in her treatment.
As Grant listed the possible future treatment courses — radiation and chemotherapy, only radiation and put off chemo for awhile, or hormone therapy — she interrupted herself and said how important Daniel Grant, her husband of nearly 53 years, has been in all of this.
“Take somebody with you,” she said. “When they hit you with something like that, they can hear what you’re not hearing.”
In another month, Grant will undergo another PET scan to determine if the cancer has spread to other organs in her body.
“I want as much time as I have and I want to spend it with my family,” she said, as she told stories about another granddaughter, Katie.
And while she thinks it will be a hard month, she won’t let anyone take her hope away now.
“A nurse found me crying and she said, ‘When all hope is gone, you still have hope with him,’ and she pointed to the ceiling,” Grant said. “I have to have hope.”
Despite all the statistics and all the possibilities, everything might be alright, Grant said. For now there is no way to know.
So Grant is working on her rehabilitation and gets stronger every day so that soon she will be able to face the next obstacle with as much strength and health as possible.
As of her last heart appointment, her cardiologist said her heart is good and strong, Grant said.
“Without Hailey, I don’t know if I would have mentioned the cut to the doctor,” Grant said.
So it might turn out that Hailey is a little angel after all.
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