LARGE BRAIN TUMOR AFFECTS TODDLER
“When will the playground be ready?” asks Presley Scott of her mom Christine. The Scotts are staying at the Tampa Ronald McDonald House (RMH) while Presley undergoes daily radiation at Florida Hospital for her brain tumor.
Christine Scott never expected that she would find herself needing the resources of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tampa Bay. But then, she never expected that her little girl, named Presley Cash in honor of Elvis Presley, would be diagnosed with a rare brain tumor.
It all began when Presley was 2½ years old. She began complaining of headaches and suddenly became lactose intolerant. She also began to have crazy tantrums causing her parents and daycare workers to be concerned. A visit to the pediatrician resulted in a journey from their home in North Port, FL to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg for a MRI. The results of that test changed the Scotts’ lives in a heartbeat. One minute they had two perfectly healthy children, the next minute one child was facing a severe illness.
Christine’s husband Wayne was in Australia working for Monster Jam when the MRI results showed that Presley had a large brain tumor. He immediately flew home to be with his family during the first phase of treatment which involved surgery to try to remove the tumor. Unfortunately, Presley has anaplastic ependymoma, causing the tumor to spread to other tissue making it difficult to extract. Doctors were able to remove a golf ball sized piece and let her recuperate before a lengthy second surgery to remove the remainder of the tumor.
Christine comments that Presley did quite well after her first surgery, although she was wobbly and had weakness on her right side. Between surgeries she underwent chemotherapy to help shrink the remaining tumor. The second surgery eliminated her weakness, but she is still undergoing daily radiation therapy at Florida Hospital. Radiation treatment normally lasts 5 to 5½ weeks, and during this time Christine and Presley stay at the Tampa RMH. Since Presley is so small, doctors put her to sleep for each radiation procedure since any movement would affect the treatment area. Presley seems to be handling this well and by the afternoon she is ready to play!
The Scotts are enjoying their visits to the Tampa RMH now that Presley is used to the routine. Her hair loss does not concern her, even though her scar is very visible. Instead she focuses on playing with all the toys at the House and waiting for the day that the new playground will be finished. When she celebrated her third birthday at the house, she was given presents and birthday treats to make her feel special. Presley loves the homemade meals every night, and Christine says that their stays are like a mini-vacation. Her 10-month old son is being cared for by her in-laws so that she can focus all her attention on Presley. Since RMH has some wonderful partnerships, mom and daughter have enjoyed free outings to Lowry Park Zoo and the Florida Aquarium.
Once Presley’s radiation treatments are finished, she will have a five-week break before starting another round of chemotherapy to ensure that the cancer is completely gone. This experience has changed Christine, making her very aware of just how many sick kids there are and what they have to go through. Her friends at the bar where she works in Sarasota have been very supportive of this process, starting a fundraiser and Go Fund Me page to help the family deal with mounting expenses.
Like so many of our families, Christine says, “This place has been a Godsend to us. The people are wonderful, and Presley is excited to return each week.” As luck would have it, the new playground opened in time for Presley to enjoy it before she left the House for good. We hope that one day this will all be a distant memory for the Scotts, as their little girl grows into a healthy and happy childhood.