Millie is a 5th grader who loves reading, playing with her friends and acting. She lives in Northern VA with her parents, little sister and loving pup "Muttsy".
Millie's mom, Jess, and family support and care for her during her brain tumor diagnosis.
How was your cancer diagnosis discovered?
Millie: I had a bad headache so my parents took me to the hospital and they did an MRI at midnight.
Millie's Mom, Jess: Millie only had about 2 days of headaches before we took her to the ER. The timing was crazy - we had been out of town and had just gotten back home. She was sleeping a lot more than normal and complaining of her head hurting, but would then be fine. Our pediatrician's office told us it was not an emergency and we were likely dealing with migraines. The odds of it being a brain tumor were so low that it never even crossed my mind. I'll never forget being told, however. After hours in the ER with Millie in a lot of pain, several Inova staff members took us across the hall into a little room and told us she had a brain tumor and would be checked in that night. It was completely surreal and devastating and for the next 12 hours we had no idea what we were dealing with.
What is the biggest piece of advice that you have for newly diagnosed patients?
Millie: Stay strong.
Jess: Lean on your network and the people who offer you help. We were surrounded by an amazing amount of love during Millie's hospitalization and after. Our community really held us up and it was a true gift. Dinner, dog walks, childcare, rides to / from the hospital for our younger daughter. And gifts! So many gifts. We ended up donating a carload full of presents to underserved families in our community. Accepting help sometimes means letting your guard down but for our family, the support we received is an experience that will stay with me forever.
What is the most important thing you learned from your cancer experience?
Millie: That I'm tougher than I thought.
Jess: I have two answers :) 1) Doctors, nurses and all the hospital staff and volunteers are heroes. 2) My daughter is a complete badass.
What was the hardest part of recovery for you? What tips would you give other kids?
Millie: Knowing how much school I was missing. People can help you get through hard things.
Jess: The hardest part, by far, was the night after surgery. Our daughter was in a tremendous amount of pain and we couldn't do anything besides sit with her during it. Watching your child suffer is a truly terrible thing.
Millie and Jess describe their cancer experience as:
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