“A Girl and her Dog”

Alexa was born on February 21st, 1998. She was healthy as can be. Alexa was a normal child and never had any health complications. She enjoyed being a kid and did very well in school!

AlexaIn early May 2006, her parents noticed that their eight-year-old daughter Alexa had started showing several odd medical symptoms, but nothing that seemed too alarming. She had several headaches, double and blurry vision, and some dizziness. Her family figured she might be having eye problems. They began noticing that Alexa’s left eye was not tracking properly. On May 11th, 2006, Alexa saw her family doctor. After a general exam, all appeared okay except for her inability to perform a heel to toe, straight line walk. The doctor immediately ordered an MRI, which Alexa had at a local hospital. Her parents then received the worst news any parent could receive. The MRI showed a tumor in Alexa’s brain, and the doctors surmised that the tumor was cancerous.

AlexaDr. Diller suggested that Alexa be taken immediately to St. Vincent’s hospital in Toledo to see Dr. Healy (a pediatric neurosurgeon). The tumor was located in the cerebellum and although brain tumors are rare, this specific type of tumor is the most common brain tumor found in children. It is called a Medulloblastoma. Alexa’s surgery to resect the tumor was scheduled for May 12, 2006. The tumor was removed after 4 hours of surgery.

Alexa developed delayed onset loss of speech, unsteadiness, and irritability. This syndrome is called Cerebellar Mutism. Alexa was not able to talk at all for over two weeks. Since then her speech has slowly been coming back and she is now talking very similar to how she did before her surgery. She is still walking with assistance but has made some great progress.

AlexaAlexa is currently undergoing speech, physical, and occupational therapy with local professionals. Alexa went through six weeks of radiation to her brain and three of those weeks were also to her spinal cord. She had six treatments of chemotherapy during radiation. Towards the end of August 2006 she began her big chemo treatments. She will have nine cycles of chemo to complete, and if all goes as planned, her last chemo treatment of this prognosis will end in July 2007. Her most recent MRI in April 2007 was “clear”.

AlexaAlexa’s older sister Abby has graduated college with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Abby has become Alexa’s aide at school. If she cannot attend school due to low blood counts, Abby is her home tutor as well. Her sister Amanda is still in college with a major in pediatric nursing. Amanda changed her major from journalism a few months after Alexa was diagnosed. Ethan is in the 8th grade and really enjoys being involved with sports and other activities. Alexa has 2 dogs, Layla and Sidney. Layla is her new Siberian Husky puppy and Sidney is 7. Alexa also has a cat named Kitty.

AlexaAlexa joined our program in February 2007. In May 2006 at the age of eight, Alexa was diagnosed with the most common brain tumor found in children, a medulloblastoma. Alexa was the youngest of four children and was loved deeply by her parents as well as her two older sisters and older brother. Alexa loved animals and had several pets of her own, including two dogs and a kitty. She was a fighter through and through and amazed family and friends alike when she persevered even when doctors thought she was at death’s door. After a long and courageous battle, Alexa earned her wings on August 6, 2009, surrounded by her loving family. Everyone who was ever touched by Alexa’s caring spirit will miss her deeply.