We all fall in love with our children. They become, from the minute they’re born, the thing that is always with us, the little (then big) souls that we nurture, care for, teach, tend to, and most of all adore with all our hearts. Our lives, no matter what they were before, are different after they’re born. For most of us, other than the usual cuts and bruises, occasional broken bone or scarily high fever, our children remain healthy and their childhoods are free of terrible pain, fear and worry. Their childhoods, in other words, are what childhood is supposed to be all about – learning, growing, laughing, with a temper tantrum and hurt feeling or two thrown in here and there.
Unfortunately some children are not given the chance to live as children should.
My friend Matti’s daughter Arden is one of those children, and here is her story, as told by Matti.
In October 2008 my baby girl Arden was diagnosed with a brain tumor and her life as a healthy, well adjusted pre-schooler changed from that moment on.
Over the following year Arden had two major surgeries to remove a tumor located in her optic chiasm. Both surgeries were successful at first, but unfortunately the tumor grew back. Each time the tumor grew back, in just a matter of weeks it grew to proportions larger than before. The doctors continued to speculate about the pathology of the tumor, and radiation was the only option. Arden’s overall health had begun to decline as she began her treatment at Massachusetts General Proton Therapy Center. During radiation the tumor continued to grow and Arden became blind in her right eye. Chemotherapy followed for six months. The tumor remains- but it has stopped growing!
Arden continues to be closely monitored by the best doctors in Boston and New York. She is currently being treated for issues that occur in children that receive radiation to their growing brains.
Arden (8) is living life at full throttle in second grade. She sings and dances, and can see better with one eye than most people can with two! She is super close with her big brother Owen (11) and they both continue to amaze and inspire me daily.
What Matti doesn’t mention is that she is caring for Arden and her brother Owen as a single parent. She and their father divorced not long after Arden was diagnosed, and Matti has gone through all of this without a partner to lean on for support. But Matti and the kids are doing fine – Matti and Arden went to an Enrique Iglesias concert recently and had a fabulous time, and Matti and Owen are planning on entertaining guests at Owen’s Bar Mitzvah with a duet on the drums!
On June 16, Arden will be participating in the New York Brain Tumor Walk to raise money for the treatment and a cure for brain tumors. Joining Arden in the walk will be Victoria Walkile, daughter of Kathy Walkile of the Real Housewives of New Jersey.
There are many worthy causes in the world…and this is just one of them. But it’s the one that matters to Matti, Arden and Owen. And me.