It was a random day in May when I received a phone call from Abby’s school nurse. She wanted to give me a heads up that Abby’s teacher had noticed that Abby was having a difficult time using scissors. Her hand kept shaking and she couldn’t seem to control it the way she wanted to. She told me it was probably nothing, like too much sugar or not enough; and that maybe we should follow up with her pediatrician in the next few weeks. Better safe than sorry, we made a doctor appointment right away. Kevin took Abby to see the doctor and it was recommended that she get an MRI.
I was worried that Abby could have MS or Parkinson’s but certainly not a brain tumor. Our dear friends had recently lost their seven year old to a brain tumor and the odds of our daughter having the same thing just couldn’t happen, so we told ourselves. We went and had the MRI and when we were in the recovery room waiting for Abby to come out from anesthesia, the doctor came in. My heart was beating out of my chest. She didn’t speak a word, as she already knew our background with our friend’s son; she just pulled up the scan on the screen and turned it towards us. There was a tumor in her brain. And right then and there our world literally shattered.
We pushed forward, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. We knew the statistics and they were not in our favor. Over the next 15 months we had an amazing journey. How a 6 year old could take so much was beyond me. 115 chemotherapy sessions, 40 clinic visits, 33 radiation treatments, over 30 days in the hospital, and 2 surgeries are just some of the things she endured.
It wasn’t all gloom and doom for us however. As a family we grew closer. Little things that seemed important had faded away as we focused on giving Abby the best life we could. She went to school more days that not, and loved it, especially her amazing teachers, trying to keep life as normal as possible. We also did amazing things as a family. We traveled to Hawaii as her Make-A-Wish trip and to Disney which was awesome. Abby and I also met Justin Bieber and then the family saw him in concert thanks to The Bear Necessities. I think back to that day and Abby and I giggling about Justin Bieber touching our backs saying that we were never going to shower again… it still makes me smile. These were just a few things in the rollercoaster 15 months we had remaining.
Abby fought hard and was always so positive, giving up wasn’t an option for her. In fact, I had told her I wished I could trade places with her so she wouldn’t have cancer to which she responded, “No, mommy. I wouldn’t want you to be sick.” Just one example of what an amazing girl she was.
Things seemed like they could be going in our favor as the radiation was shrinking the tumor significantly. We felt like we could breathe a little easier for a bit. At the twelve month mark that changed drastically. She had an MRI which revealed new growth. The proverbial clock started ticking louder.
Abby was able to celebrate her 8th birthday at home with family and it was a beautiful day. A few days later we left home and went to the hospital. Kevin and I stayed with Abby those next 15 days not leaving her side and held her hands as she went home to God.
Even though her life was short, we are so grateful that we were able to have 8 years with her. Her strength and determination impacted many people and we hope to help find a cure for this horrible disease. We have partnered with the Live Like John Foundation, creating Live Like Abby, in her honor.