Mya's Story "Just try to relax and be brave"

Mya's Story "Just try to relax and be brave"

Eight-year-old Mya is a courageous brain tumour survivor. The Williamsons, a family from Moncton, New Brunswick, share their story of strength as a way to cope and heal, and in hopes of helping other children and families going through
similar struggles on the brain tumour journey.

Mya was born with one kidney so she and her parents, Mike and Shelly, are no strangers to hospitals. At the early age of
three, Mya began to have stomach issues and was put on various medications to try and ease her symptoms. However,
when Mya developed consistent vomiting and headaches in early 2013, it was thought simply to be side effects of
the medication. When that possibility was ruled out, Mya’s symptoms were chalked up to a stomach bug the whole
family was coincidentally stricken with at the same time.

But then the vomiting and headaches continued, the Williamsons knew something was wrong and Mya went for a CT scan in late January 2013. “We figured we’d hear something back in three weeks,” Mike explains. “But we got a call that same day to get back to the hospital for an MRI.” By Friday, Mike and Shelly were told the likely cause of their daughter’s symptoms was a tumour on Mya’s brain. “When reality hit, it was truly devastating,” Mike recalls. “It took weeks for it all to really hit home.”

On February 8, 2013, Mya’s first surgery was scheduled to install a shunt for fluid drainage. Complications arose and a
second surgery followed a few days later. It was during that operation that it took the surgeon, Dr. Simon Walling, almost nine hours to remove most of the craniopharyngioma on Mya’s pituitary gland.

Mya remembers overhearing her mother on the phone with her grandmother, talking about the upcoming operation. “My mom told me all about it and I asked if she would be beside me for the surgery and she said ‘yes,’” For almost three weeks, the Williamsons were in the hospital as Mya recovered.

Mya says her little sister Brooke, who was only four years old at the time, was a tremendous support. “Brooke helped me a lot; she would ask if I needed anything like juice or water. She was just a really nice big girl for me.”

Because of the location of the tumour, Mya has limited peripheral vision in her right eye and is hormone deficient – but that won’t slow her down.

Today, Mya’s visits to the hospital have been reduced to annual MRIs that keep watch on the tumour site, and she recently started hormone treatment and continues to see an endocrinologist every six months.

“Other than that, she’s doing well,” Mike says proudly, “and she’ll go on to do great things.”

For Mya, those great things include fundraising for causes near and dear to her heart.

Ever since the Williamsons connected with Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada through a friend’s Facebook post, Mya has taken part in the annual Spring Sprint (now Brain Tumour Walk), raising money for the brain tumour community.

She also wants to help other kids affected by illness and supports the local research and pediatric hospital that treated her throughout the years, the IWK Health Centre.

In total, Mya has donated over $24,000 to brain tumour research, patient programs and other charities.

Bringing hope to children and families in the brain tumour community is important to Mya and Brooke. It’s been a tough couple of years for both the girls, and they have words of wisdom to share with anyone else that faces the brain tumour journey. “Don’t think about whatever’s happening. Just try to relax and be brave,” says Mya. “And if they’re watching their brother or sister go into surgery, I’d tell them be brave and be strong, too,” adds Brooke.

Thank you Mya, and your family for sharing your story
and for all that you do to support children and families affected by a brain tumour.

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Story posted: August 2014.


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