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Keeping the Faith




February Newsletter 2014

Her call came as we were having a meeting here at the studio…”It’s cancer.” Dumbfounded, I went to the back room so I could fall apart. Alli is my 26 year old niece. She and her husband were so excited that they were expecting their much wanted 2nd child. She began having migraine headaches in February and the doctors blamed them on the pregnancy. After MANY trips to the ER, the mass on her brain was discovered on April 4th after she experienced a seizure while at the hospital. At 28 weeks pregnant, it was determined that they needed to remove the mass. On April 7th a craniotomy was performed. The baby couldn’t be monitored during surgery because the surgeon needed to concentrate on Alli. The tumor took up 93% of the right frontal lobe of her brain. Alli and the baby made it through to surgery. The neurosurgeon was sure that it was benign…that’s why the call “kicked me in the stomach”.
The oncologist and neurosurgeon agreed that Alli needed chemotherapy and radiation but the baby needed more time in the womb. Knowing that there was cancer and not being able to treat it was excruciating!
At 33 weeks pregnant – June 4th, the doctors took Tatum by C-section. Expecting this little 3lb 13oz baby girl to need a ventilator, the doctors were amazed at her perfection. She was the “star” of the neonatal unit.
On June 6th Alli began chemotherapy. This caused more seizures and the headaches returned with full force. The doctors stopped the treatment. Another MRI showed that the tumor had regrown. FEAR began to take over as our family started on a journey we never thought we would take. After consulting with MD Anderson in Houston, it was decided that Alli needed another craniotomy to remove the tumor regrowth. We all dropped to our knees asking God to “step in and take over”. They were not able to remove the entire tumor, as it was too close to an artery. They would rely on the chemo and radiation to take care of any remainder of the tumor.
All the while, that perfect little baby girl was growing stronger and winning the hearts of the nurses in the neonatal unit. She was a miracle and we were asking for another one for her momma.
The 6 weeks of radiation was hard…but the blessings of total strangers and loving family were the strength that made this “nightmare” somewhat “doable”. The chemo began and seemed to be working but the steroids began to take its toll on Alli’s body and she began to show symptoms of “steroid psychosis”. At one point she didn’t have the strength to walk. How much more did she have to go through? Our hearts hurt but our faith outweighed our fear.
The latest MRI showed no new changes and will be repeated in mid February. Alli is regaining her strength and is amazed at the precious little girl that has been credited with saving her life. Her scars go deeper than what is seen on her head…her family is trying to establish a “new normal”. There is so much that we want to forget but this journey needs to be shared.
Alli and Tatum were ready for a “road trip” and so I brought them to Goodland for a week. Alli had wanted Brittney to take pictures since I began working here and this was the perfect opportunity! I want you to meet little miss Tatum and her beautiful momma, Alli.