I want to introduce you to my family. My name is Penny and I have three wonderful kids. Nikki is now 15, Jared 12 and little William who is 7. Our lives changed almost exactly 5 years ago. I was getting the kids ready to go shopping for some Easter clothes when Nikki came into the room and said , “mom my arm feels funny” which was followed by “my face won’t work right”.
The one side of her face, same as the arm, was not moving. This of course sent me straight to the ER with her little brothers in tow. After a few hours the doctor assured me it was just anxiety and we would be heading home soon. I think I was praying he was right but in my gut I knew something was terribly wrong.
Nik was brought in for a CAT scan and I can honestly say I saw sorrow in their faces when I picked Nik up from the x-ray room, and it was then that I knew my gut was right. It was only a matter of minutes after the CAT scan that a team of physicians, social workers and clergy approached me with the news I so desperately did NOT want to hear. My worst nightmare was true and I was told that my 5th grader (straight A student, dancer, singer, daughter and big sister) had a large brain tumor.
Nikki was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma at the age of 10. The tumor, which was the size of a racquetball, was removed and she completed 31 days of radiation (which consisted of being screwed down to the table and having high doses of radiation go through her little body). Then of course came the gastro tube along with 14 months of chemo.
Having a child go through cancer is hard for the entire family. There were soccer games, play dates and class parties that were missed for Jared and Nik while William pretty much spent his entire 3rd and 4th year of life in and out of the hospital. Nikki’s first day of middle school she wore a wig and had a g-tube. Talk about middle school blues. But our faith and her determination came through and before long she ditched the wig and we sailed through the rest of her treatment.
It is nice to finally be on this side of treatment however, as a lot of us chemo families know, it’s not over. Nikki is dealing with the side effects from the surgery and treatment, however, she continues to improve daily and is a blessing to everyone she meets. I was thankful that I had friends and family willing to help with watching the boys or running Nik to an appointment or two. I was thankful for organizations just like this one that were willing to help out financially when it was needed. Nikki continues to amaze me with her determination and her wonderful spirit. She truly fought cancer with grace and elegance…. And won!