Mimi is thirty-nine, but she is our baby, the youngest of our five children. Eleven years ago, in the wee hours of the morning after Memorial Day, we received a phone call. It was her husband, John on the line. He said they were at the Gastonia hospital. Mimi woke him up with jerking movements that rocked their bed. A seizure diagnosed by the ER led to tests including an MRI that showed a brain tumor. We took off for Gastonia and was witness to a seizure while she lay waiting for admittance to a ward. Nothing I’ve ever witnessed has affected me more.

Surgery was the next step. Transferred to Charlotte she was operated on by the same doctor that had saved her son’s life some years earlier when he was three months old and suffering from shaken baby syndrome. The infant had been a victim of a day care worker who, proved by tapes, had abused at least six babies in her care. However, our grandson was the only one that suffered permanent damage.

Mimi’s surgery was less than successful in that they could not remove the entire tumor. It was lodged against both lobes and the team of doctors felt that paralysis might occur if they cut deeper. Armed with anti-seizure drugs, Mimi was able to function normally after some rehab time, but could not get pregnant as the drugs could cause a maligned fetus. She accepted that she was to have only the one child. Legally blind, he sees around scar tissue in the retinas of his damaged eyes. His reading is slow and labored, but he perseveres.

Fast forward to June, 2011. Mimi’s bi-yearly MRI showed tumor growth. Surgery again, but the same constriction leaves much of the tumor in tact. Mimi is paralyzed on her right side. She cannot lift her arm and her right leg needs to be restrained because it kicks out, perhaps in protest. The seizure medication is increased and chemo started in pill form. The next MRI shows continued growth of the tumor so chemo dose is increased. Next MRI shows continued growth. Time to get chemo by injection. Vomiting and dehydration land Mimi back in the hospital. A different, new species of chemo is started. A former gymnast and fitness guru is sent home, a skinny, loose skinned woman–a shell of her former self. Still paralyzed on her right side she manages to walk with the help of a three pronged stick. Her right leg is braced to keep it under control, her right arm, dormant at her side. And still she has hope.