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Virginia is very shy when she meets new people, but once she warms up, she has a sweet and spunky personality. She loves playing with puppies and doing art projects.
Virginia started getting sick on a Tuesday. It began with throwing up and generally feeling bad. It progressed into severe neck pain and dizziness. After two visits and two phone calls with the pediatrician that week, on Friday she was admitted to the emergency room at Centennial Medical Center for the neck pain and general lethargy. They ran all sorts of tests but didn't know what was going on. On Saturday, they did two CT scans and saw an abnormality. They took her for an MRI that night at 8:30 pm. The tumor was found in the MRI. Virginia’s family was alerted by the pediatric oncologist on staff that night around 11:15 pm. They transferred her to another hospital that night and they arrived at Vanderbilt Children’s early Sunday morning. Virginia had surgery to remove the tumor that Monday and started proton radiation for anaplastic ependymoma.
Virginia’s family lives in Nashville but traveled to Jacksonville, Florida for proton radiation treatment for 7 weeks. Virginia’s family hopes and dreams that the tumor never returns, that they are able to help others in similar situations and that Virginia grows into a strong and resilient woman.
Alice, Virginia’s mother, wants other families in similar situations to know it is a very hard road. Question and learn about your child's diagnosis. Don't turn down help and support from friends and family. People want to help, so let them. Be open and honest with your family. Everyone may deal with the road differently.
Virginia is a hero because she has been through so much and rebounded like a super star!
"You have the power to defeat cancer." Virginia, in letter to friend from the proton facility.
Information submitted by Alice and Robert Heywood, Virginia's parents
Updated: February 2016
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