Tillery, 15-months-old, was diagnosed with a brain tumor on the last day of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, September 30, 2014. Within 48 hours of her diagnosis, Tillery underwent her first major surgery that lasted 15 hours and resulted in the removal of 10% of her tumor. After weeks of waiting for pathology reports, Tillery’s parents were given good news; her tumor was low grade and she was expected to live a long life. The hard news was that because of the tumor placement, she would likely always have part of the mass in her brain and would be an oncology patient all of her life. Because of Tillery’s young age, this was hard news for parents to process and accept.
Over the course of treatments and therapies, the Phillips family has met many kids who have impacted their lives: kids with cancer, other brain tumor patients, kids with chronic illnesses and too many kids who did not survive. Tillery’s parents, Joe and Alana, decided to use their daughter’s story to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research. On the whole, better research will save kids like the ones they have met along the way. More directly, funding pediatric brain tumor research could have an impact on the Tillery’s tumor as well.
Tillery’s cancer journey has been chronicled on a Facebook page, “Tillery is Loved”, and the blog, TilleryisLoved.com. For fundraising events, the family began using the name TIL Foundation, short for Tillery Is Loved and also their daughter’s nickname. The message they want to spread is “hope til there’s a cure”.
Tillery is now a kid who blends in with her peers. She still receives weekly chemotherapy infusions and has another major surgery anticipated in early 2017.