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The Hats Tribute is a collection of personal stories by those affected by a brain tumour

Heffler, Onika Claire

Heffler, Onika Claire

Heffler, Onika Claire

August 17, 2006 - June 23, 2007

On December 14, 2006, Onika was taken to the emergency room at the IWK for having a very high fever. We knew something was wrong for awhile, she always seemed to be sick, but we were just new parents. After they performed numerous tests in the ER including an MRI, our lives changed forever. The doctors found a large tumour growing on the outside of Onika's brain taking up 1/3 of her brain, as well as a small one growing inside her brain. The doctors had never seen a tumour so large in a baby before. It took hours for them to decide what to do and many phone calls. The very next day, Onika underwent brain surgery for 8 ½ hours. The doctors removed about 50% of the tumour safely. She spent two days in ICU; she was a fighter and was recovering quickly. On December 22, 2006, we received the news of the type of tumour she had, which was a glioblastoma, meaning fast growing and cancerous. This was another nightmare; the doctors had never seen this type of tumour in a baby so young before either. In January, it was decided that more surgery was not a safe option, so Onika started chemotherapy. In March she had an MRI and it had showed more bad news. Her tumour continued to grow and the chemo did not work at all. We decided to continue with the next round of chemo because it was drugs she hadn't received yet, and Onika wanted to fight, so we gave her another fighting chance. She developed along like a little baby, to everyone's surprise, a little behind but she was amazing. Onika received another MRI in April and it showed no change in her tumour, this was the best news we ever received, but we knew there was still a long road to travel and the odds of her beating the tumour were not very good, but we never gave up on her, as she wanted to fight. Onika was to receive two more rounds of chemo and she did not respond well right away. She was very sick. Towards the end of May, Onika became very sleepy so the doctors did her MRI early and the results were not good. Her tumour was still growing and all the parts that had died off were filling up with new tumour. We had to make the right decision for Onika and not be selfish on our part. She was already asleep and the chances of her waking up were not very good. We decided to stop all the chemo and give her the best quality of life that she could have with the time she had left. After five days, to everyone's surprise, little Miss Onika woke up. She gave us the best few weeks of smiles and giggles and her little scream for more food that she loved to eat. On June 23, 2006, Onika lost her battle, but her memory will forever live on through all the hearts of the people she touched. She will always be our special angel.



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