When Jillian was 10 years old, in the Spring of 2004, 3 weeks before 5th grade graduation, she started to complain to me that she was getting a “twitch” in her eye. I told her it is nothing and that I get twitches too and that most people get a twitch, and not to worry about it. But, when it started twitching every day, multiple times a day followed by a pain in her eye, and knowing that Jillian is not a complainer, I took her right to the pediatrician. Our pediatrician took us seriously after knowing us for 10 years and knowing that I do not bring Jillian in for every little thing. She knew that we had neurological diseases in our family, so to cover our bases; she wanted us to see a neurologist.
Our pediatric neurologist happens to be a friend of ours so we went to see him and to cover all bases, he requested blood work, an EEG, and MRI to rule out one specific disease, a disease my sister had died from and there is no cure.
The EEG and blood work were done first and all came back normal. However her MRI was not, and the techs and doctors knew it right away. By the time I travelled home from Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital to Sandy Springs, my husband had already been called with the news!
Jillian had a benign brain tumor called an Epidermoid. This is a slow growing tumor that is usually not found until more symptoms show up, such as seizures, blindness, balance issues, etc. It was pressing on 60% of her balance center. By the time it is usually found (age 20-30’s) it has adhered like gum to many cranial nerves and cannot all be removed. If 1 cell is left in, it can grow back at any time. It needed to come out soon, but we had enough time to look for the right neurosurgeons. After much thought, we stayed in Atlanta and Dr. William Boydston did the 5 hour surgery in June 2004.
Jillian did great! We were home from the hospital after 1 week. She started beading jewelry and selling it and donating all the proceeds, approximately $500.00 to BTFC, while lying on the couch recuperating. She also sold her jewelry at William’s Walk that year.
Jillian was able to start Middle School on the first day with all her friends. We didn’t know in June what her capabilities would be like after the surgery. She made A’s every semester of Middle School!
Jillian is now about to graduate from Riverwood High School, an IB student, who has earned honor roll status ALL 8 semesters! She will be attending The University of Miami’s prestigious Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, to major in marine biology. Her passion over these last few years has been scuba diving, so she will be in her element! Her goal is to become an orthopedic surgeon. With her determination, nothing will stand in her way!!