Mia, my 8-year-old daughter. She is an amazing little girl, loves to play, run around, draw, write, and has a big heart. No matter what’s going on a smile is never missing from her face. She has a selfless heart, always willing to give to others and always puts herself last when others are in need. She lost her baby sister to a freak accident in 2016 and her loving grandma a year later, but even then she has never stopped smiling and sharing her love of life.
A couple of weeks ago something started to change with our little girl. The smile that everyone falls in love with was not the same. The look in her eyes seemed slightly different and, as her mother, I could tell, “Something was wrong with our Mia."
I started to observe my daughter and take mental notes of things I noticed to be a bit odd over the course of a week. One side of her face looked “different”, a bit “droopy”. Her lip would slide to the side when she would talk. She complained of headaches that were caused by lights that weren’t there. As soon as I saw all these red flags, my instinct as a mother was to immediately take her to a pediatrician. Once we were there he decided it would be best if we went to the hospital for an MRI. After an hour that seemed like a lifetime, the doctor came back and told us that our baby girl has a mass/tumor on the right side of her head, that it was impairing some of her nerves, and it needed to be removed. I dropped to the floor thinking, 'How can this be happening?' "They are wrong!" I kept saying to myself over and over. We stayed at Duke Hospital for three days where they ran more tests and we played the waiting game all parents dread.
While her father and I tried to keep it together, not showing our fear to lose another child, running hundreds of scenarios in my head, and praying to God that is was not cancer, even throughout all the craziness going on around her, my baby girl continued to laugh and smile. She kept saying how excited she was to meet her baby sister (I'm pregnant, and due mid-August). She thought that getting to order her breakfast, lunch, and dinner in bed was the best thing ever.
Eventually, the doctors came and finally told us. It was a tumor in her head and it needed to be removed. The words: tumor, surgery, and brain are the only thing that echoes in my head. A mother's fear is to not be able to protect our children from harm. When our kisses don’t make the ouchies better, it’s the worst feeling ever. The doctors explained how this was NOT a malignant tumor but that removal of it will have to be very soon as it was aggressive and affecting nerves in her face, her right eye is weak, and she has no hearing on her right side. If not removed it will affect her eating, swallowing, and even her other motor skills.
She's scheduled for surgery July 30. I look at her and even though she knows something isn't right she's still a bubbly, amazing, loving, caring, selfless, and remarkable girl. I wanted to start sharing this story because it may help someone out there, and save a life. I think, so far, we are lucky we caught it in time for them to do something. But sometimes we don’t see it. This tumor was silently growing in my daughter's head and if I didn’t pay attention to my baby girl’s smile I would have never know that something was “wrong” with our Mia.