Bridget

Just before her 5th birthday, our daughter Bridget started to complain that her head hurt. Since she had just started pre-school and she only had headaches on school days, everyone thought she was trying to get out of school.
 
But then the headaches came on weekends and she started throwing up. I called the doctor, who was very concerned.  An MRI was scheduled right
 

away. It confirmed the worst, Bridget had a brain tumor.
 
One week later, they removed the tumor. In just one week, we went from normal childhood to brain surgery. For me and my family, it couldn’t have been more extreme, or so we thought.  We soon found out the tumor was cancerous. There really are no words to convey what we were feeling. We were filled with grief and anger and questions.
 
Everything you hear about cancer treatment is true. The steroids caused mood swings, facial hair, and increased appetite. Bridget gained 20 pounds, and later, she lost so much weight that she couldn’t recover from the chemo. A g-tube was installed so we could feed high protein meals directly into her stomach.
 
Radiation was hell. Staying in the hospital wasn’t easy. And at first, going to The Tomorrow Fund Clinic was tough, too. We didn’t look forward to it, even though we loved all the people there. They were the only group that really knew what we were going through. In time though, I started to think of the Clinic as our very own Cheers bar, like on TV. You walk in and they all know your name…and not just Bridget’s name. The staff knows everyone in our family. The place is beautiful also. It’s very un-hospital like.
 
When treatment finally ended, Bridget’s body was pretty beaten up. There were more surgeries to remove everything that had been put into her. She finished Kindergarten and had been absent only 50 days. Not bad! Now, we only had to go to the Clinic every two weeks for blood work and have an MRI every 3 months. We truly enjoyed the summer and got back to being a family.
 
Bridget is now in remission. She has become a different little girl. She’s a 30 year-old cancer expert in a 5 year-old’s body. I wish the 5 year-old could come back.
 
We still face new challenges every day. When a young brain is exposed to radiation, many things can happen. The brain may not fully develop; there are learning disabilities; connections the brain makes as it grows may not be made; memory problems occur; and more. It’s very scary stuff.
 
Another side effect is hearing loss. Bridget wears hearing aids and will need them for the rest of her life.
 
Through this long journey, The Tomorrow Fund has helped us every step of the way. They paid for meals every time Bridget was in the hospital. Our Social Worker visited Bridget’s school to help her feel normal there. Even baseline IQ testing was paid for by The Tomorrow Fund so we can track Bridget’s progress and address all the long-term side effects. It’s like being down in the trenches with perfect strangers, but they all have your back.
 
It’s an eye-opening experience being involved with The Tomorrow Fund. You come to appreciate so much and take nothing for granted.
 
The Tomorrow Fund is there for us, if we need it, when we need it. The Tomorrow Fund will always be there. We can count on that.