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My name is Ivette Ruiz and I am the mom of a sassy, bubbly girl who is a third grader in Ms. Thomas' class. I'd like to share her story with all if y'all efforts to help her school year not be so tough.
Mia has gone through a lot these past three years. She has experienced loss in the worst imageable ways. In 2016, she lost her baby sister and a year later she lost her grandma. And today she is fighting a fight that no child should have too.
During the summer after I notice that the sparkle in my daughter's eyes wasn’t there, she became tired at of nowhere, and she became more clumsy. She'd complain of headaches with shaky floors and lights that were not there. Her smile was not forming a U shape. So we went to the doctors and after a week-long stay at Duke, we finally got a diagnosis.
Mia had a brain tumor on the right side if her head. After more test we finally got the final diagnosis; it was a grade one meningioma benign tumor that is considered cancerous and has an effect her nerves on the right side of her face. On July 30th, 2018, Mia underwent brain surgery but only 40% of the tumor was successfully removed. The tumor is close to her brain stem and at this point, we don't know if it will ever be successfully and safely removed. But this hasn't stopped my baby girl from being her self; she was determined to be ready for school.
On the first day of school, with silent tears in my eyes, I was able to walk her into school. A month after her surgery Mia's voice wasn't the same, it was slow and hoarse, eating certain foods where hard for her to swallow and her the right side of her face slowly started to lose strength. And once again, my baby girl's smile was once again losing her shape.
Her right eye stop closing all the way whenever she closed her eyes. And she developed cough spells that disrupted her day. Back to the doctors, it was and on October 11th, 2018, she underwent a mini surgery were she got her vocal cord was injected with tissues in efforts to fix her voice and end her cough spells. Also, a tube was inserted in the right ear to help with her hearing. The surgery helped her hearing but her cough spells didn't stop. Her voice is a little louder and is a bit easier for her to speak. But the right side of her face continues to get weak and now her face appears to have shifted to the right.
This has made my baby girl become extremely self-conscious and her self-esteem and confidence to diminish and she has become a bit withdrawn from people. As a parent, the worst thing to have to experience is to see your child hurt. When you can't take the pain away, it aches, for the smile that we fall in love with every day isn't on their face. As mothers, we will go to the end of the world if possible for our kids.
So the reason for my letter is to share with y'all my daughter struggle so y'all as parents can sit with your children and explain to them that Mia isn't different, she's just going through a hard time.
On November 29th, we got the news that Mia is a candidate for Cross Face Nerve Grafts for Facial Paralysis surgery. This will give Mia her smile back and more control of her eye, and hopefully end her cough spells. This will be in done in February 2019 and it's a long process, her tumor is still there and has grown but not enough to where she needs to have radiation yet. As for now, we have to keep going every three months for an MRI to monitor it.
I don't know what the future holds for my daughter, but the silent fight that she is fighting is hard. I can't take her tumor away and I can't fight her fight but I can try to get my baby girl's smile back. So as a plea of a parent to another, I am asking for help in any way possible to help with our daughter's medical expenses. All my daughter want for holidays is to be able to smile, for kids to stop staring, and for her to be able to just be Mia.