The incredible story of Sloan McGillis: She was born with a giant facial tumor – but overcame all obstacles

The sheer happiness of welcoming a baby into your world and your family can’t be compared to anything. Seeing the bundle of joy you were longing to meet for nine long months is the most exciting thing there is, and this is something every parent will agree with.

When baby Sloan was born in 2015, her parents, Joe and Jennifer McGillis, were over the moon. However, what they didn’t expect was their daughter to have a large tumor on her face because no ultrasound during the pregnancy showed any deformations.

The tumor took a large portion of Sloan’s face and it required thirteen surgeries over the first years of her life for it to be completely removed. Today, Sloan resembles a perfectly normal child. This is her incredible story.


Following her birth on February 25, 2015, baby Sloan’s mom and dad noticed a growth on her face, and on day three, she was hospitalized at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as it was determined that the growth was a tumor.

“They handed her to me,” Jennifer told Inside Edition, recalling the first moment she saw Sloan with the tumor. “I went into shock at that point.”

“I had about a minute of panic terror,” Joe added.

The great thing was that the doctor in charge for Sloan’s treatment, Dr. Hardy, gave the family some hope and never left their side.

“He walked into Sloan’s hospital room when she was just born, looked at her & said, “That is a hemangioma & she will be just fine. Your daughter is going to be ok.” And for the 1st time in 48 hours, I think I was able to breathe again,” Jennifer wrote on Facebook.


It was determined that the growth was hemangioma, a type of growth that appear as red or purple lumps on the skin made of rapidly dividing cells of blood vessel walls.

Being non-cancerous, these tumors can be operated on and removed safely, but as with any surgery, these can be followed by complications, too.

“When she was born, it was hard as a rock,” Jennifer told the Billings Gazette. “It was like having a grapefruit under your skin.”

In Sloan’s face, the growth appeared on a large part of her face preventing her from fully closing her mouth. “She just doesn’t seem to know it’s there, she’s grown up with it,” Jennifer explained. “We’ve done nothing to treat it as a visibility.”


The doctors said they should wait and see if the tumor would shrank by itself over time, which caused even greater concern at her parents who know how cruel people could be. They were afraid of the stares and how it would affect their daughter’s self-confidence.

“The world is cruel sometimes,” Joe said.

“Sometimes adults are worse about it than other children,” Jennifer added. “Many parents of children with hemangioma are accused of child abuse.”

Sloan underwent her first surgery at in January, 2016. The doctor who performed the surgery was Dr. Milton Waner at the Vascular Birthmark Institute of New York.


On the day sweet Sloan went under the knife, her mom posted a touching message on the social media.

They had a plan, but we knew we couldn’t expect the entire tumor to be gone & you can never mentally prepare yourself to see your baby cut all over their face with 100’s of sutures & tubes coming out of them. I look back on this 1st experience & my stomach goes in knots just thinking about the moment I held her in the operating room with the mask over her face & watched her eyes roll back in her head,” Jennifer wrote.

“In that moment, as I think most parents would have a wave of fear come over them, I prayed that was not the last time I held her. Surgery itself is scary enough but to have to make the decision to have it done on your infant is gut wrenching. Were we doing the right thing? Was it to much for her little body? Will the pain be too much for her & she can’t tell us? “

Luckily, doctors were able to remove 90 percent of the tumor.


However, despite the success of the initial surgery, Sloan was about to undergo more, and the family didn’t have the money for it because  the hospital, Lenox Hill, in New York, wouldn’t accept Sloan’s Montana Medicaid insurance.

But as they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and in this family’s case, it took some kind-hearted people to help their daughter get the life she deserved. A bank in Missoula set up a medical fund in Sloan’s name, and an online fundraising effort brought in more than $30,000. The Hannah Storm Foundation had raised enough money to cover all Sloan’s surgeries and hospital stays in New York. Overall, the family was bale to raise $100,000.

“Everything we were worried about just fell away,” Jennifer told Missoulian. “We didn’t have to worry about how to pay for all of this.”

Joe added: “They aren’t donating to us, they are donating to her, and it was tough to wrap our heads around that for a while. Sloan’s changed us, she’s made us stronger and made us better people.”


Sloan’s story has been documented on the Sloan’s Story Facebook Page.

Today, she resembles a perfectly normal child and no one would have guessed that she was born with a huge tumor on her face.

“I was born with a port wine birthmark stain on my face. Without makeup, even to this day [it] looks like a black eye,” now eight-year-old Storm told Inside Edition.

The family is thankful to everyone involved in Sloan’s recovery, as well as to everyone who has supported them throughout the years. However, their special thanks goes to Dr. Hardy, who was crucial to Sloan’s new life.


“It’s difficult for me as a mom to put into words the gratitude I have for him. He will never truly know what he has done for Sloan, myself & my family,” Jeniffer McGillis wrote of Dr. Hardy. “Thank you for doing things for my daughter that we, as her parents could not. Thank you for our monthly visits that I’m certain I looked forward to much more than Sloan; I truly think of you as a friend now.”

We are so happy everything turned out for the best for Sloan and her family.

Please SHARE this article with your family and friends on Facebook.

Bored Daddy

Love and Peace

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