On May 1, 2019, an urgent visit to our pediatrician changed our lives. Addie had been experiencing symptoms a few weeks prior that signaled her pediatrician to order an emergency MRI, which led to the discovery of a mass on her cerebellum. We were sent down to Rainbows UH for Addie to undergo another MRI, which confirmed the discovery. Over the next two days, Addie underwent 2 brain surgeries. The second surgery on May 3, 2019 was to remove the tumor. Preliminary tests performed that same day revealed that the mass was a malignant tumor, and based on the symptoms, size, and placement, it was determined to be Medulloblastoma. The neurosurgeon was confident that he would be able to remove as much as he could, and was able to perform a successful surgery that left a small area (1mm to 1.5mm) connected to her brainstem.

After her recovery from surgery, Addie underwent surgery to place her mediport, a corrective eye surgery, 6 weeks (equivalent to 30 treatments) of radiation, another eye surgery, a g-tube placement, hundreds of pokes, 2 lumbar punctures, and several scans. A few weeks after radiation ended she began her journey to complete 9 cycles of chemotherapy, which was spread out over roughly one year.

During all of this, Addie went back to school full time as a third grader at Lake Elementary in August of 2019, just 3 months after brain surgery and being diagnosed with brain cancer. The motto at our house was, and will always be, “We will worry about the cancer, you worry about being a kid”, and Addie has done just that. She continues to be a social butterfly and loves being at school with her friends. During the 2019-2020 school year, Addie only missed 46 days of school. Even on chemo cycle admission days, Addie could be found at school, even if just for an hour in the morning, so she could attend her student council meeting where she was a class representative.

As many cancer parents will tell you, even though the treatments have ended, this really has no end. Cancer will be a part of her life for years to come. She will have routine exams, scans, and blood draws. The side effects from chemotherapy can develop over time, and she will always be susceptible to secondary cancers. But no matter what the future holds, Addie‘s big heart and huge smile will never disappear, and her strength and determination will continue to be one step ahead of cancer.