On December 18, Gentry was preparing to go on her very first Disney World vacation! We only had ONE MORE SCHOOL day left; however, at school, her teacher noticed some things that seemed “off”. Gentry had recently had to get glasses because of some blurred vision. On Dec 18, her teacher, a former Respiratory Therapist, noticed that Gent had an usual gait while walking. Her speech was also a bit slurred. After tripping a few times, her teacher called me with her concerns. As a teacher who happened to be on a field trip, I made the necessary arrangements to leave early and made a mad dash to her school to get her. On the way, I called her Pediatrician who recommended that I take her straight to the ER and have a CT scan. This is where our nightmare unfolded.
Within 4 hours of her teacher calling me, we had been told Gentry had a tumor in her brain stem and we were in route to Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans to meet with a neurosurgeon. Upon arriving and having our first experience with a sedated MRI, Gentry was diagnosed with DIPG, an inoperable brain tumor, and that night, we were told to make memories with our baby. The doctors gave us 9-18 months with our sweet 5 year old baby girl. After composing ourselves, we decided that if all we were being given was time with our daughter, we were about to LIVE this disease.
We completed our recommended radiation and considered our clinical trial options. Our greatest desire was to give Gentry the best quality of life for the next few months. Our prayers were that this tumor leave her body, BUT That didn’t happen so we pray that someone can be helped from our JOURNEY!
Sadly, 7 months after Gents diagnosis, she took her last breath. Until mine, I will fight for funding and fight for a cure for DIPG and other “rare” childhood cancers.
Written by Amy and Brydon Terrell