Baby with cancer is medical mystery for doctors

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX -- The baby girl of a former Phoenix police officer is being called a medical mystery.

Nine-month old Addison Cox has cancer, but it's how she got it that's puzzling. Addison's mother, Officer Briana Cox, had cancer while she was pregnant, didn't know it and passed it on to her.

"You would think this is one of the happiest babies on the face of the earth," gushes proud papa James Cox.  "She's a fighter like her mom. She's showed no signs of pain."

You'd never guess that Addison was born with stage four Melanoma passed to her from her mother while in utero.

"The first stint with melanoma was in 2006," James said. "She had surgery, they had clear margins, and everything you could ask for. It went well."

Briana then went in for routine checkups. First, every three months, then every six and finally once a year. And in six years of checkups, never once was another spot found. Then last June, about a month after giving birth to Addison, Briana had a seizure.

"They found she had metastasized malignant melanoma and it spread pretty much through her whole body, shoulder, lungs and brain, brain being the worst," James said. "We asked, 'Why didn't anyone catch this?'"

James said doctors told them the symptoms associated with this sort of cancer would include fatigue and mild memory loss -- symptoms that mirror pregnancy. James said immediately Briana thought of her daughter.  Doctors assured her Addison was fine, but she demanded tests and a week later Addison was diagnosed stage four melanoma.

"It's very similar to her mother's -- in the brain, one in her shoulder, in her lungs, kidney, liver, leg, even the back of her tongue," James said. "Bri went through the emotions of my baby, my fault but everyone told her it's not her fault.  No one took better care of themselves than her."

In fact, according to Phoenix Children's Hospital, this is the first case they've ever seen and Addison is only the ninth case ever published.

The whole situation is beyond rare and that makes it beyond expensive. So, Phoenix police officers are hosting a fundraiser not only to raise money but to raise awareness about the fight one of their officers faced and inadvertently passed on to her daughter..

"The story with Addison being born with the disease as well touches everyone's heart," said fellow friend and police Detective Sarah Gasper.  "I know that her goal was to get this awareness out because she didn't know, nobody knew."

Briana lost her fight against cancer Feb. 12.

"It's your health care and you have to stay on top of it, especially with skin cancer. There's more out there than just spots on the skin," James said. "The big thing for her was for people to understand melanoma more and she wished for a miracle for Addison."

Right now the prognosis for Addison isn't good. Doctors say there is no cure for her cancer and doctors give her two years. But the chemo is working. In fact, some of her tumors are even shrinking. But her medicine is experimental, FDA approved only for her and thus not covered by insurance.

So Phoenix police are holding a fundraiser March 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Phoenix Police Air Support Unit, 102 E. Deer Valley Road.

Donations can be made to the "Cox Family" donation account at Arizona Federal Credit Union.  Account #826604.

For more information, call Sgt. Keith Politte at 602-999-2214.