After a monthslong battle with brain and spinal cancer, 4-month-old Lillian Grace finally rang the “cancer-free” bell at the hospital — and the moment, posted on Facebook by Lily’s mom, pulls at the heartstrings.
September 5, 2019, couldn’t have been a more exciting and life-changing day for Leann and Patrick Borden of Reno, Nevada. They were at the hospital for the birth of their first baby — a daughter who would be named Lillian Grace.
But when Lily was born, a nurse noticed the baby’s limbs weren’t moving.
“She came out paralyzed, pretty much,” Leann Borden said. “Her limbs weren’t moving like they should and that’s what caused curiosity, like something’s not right. So after she was born, one nurse was checking her out, and then all of a sudden, five nurses were in the hospital room.”
Multiple tests were done while Lily lay in the neonatal intensive care unit, but nothing showed that anything was abnormal. The moment she was about to be sent home, another doctor ordered an MRI.
“And there it was — an ominous spot on her brain stem,” according to the family’s GoFundMe page.
After days of testing and anxious waiting, the Bordens finally learned their daughter was born with a tumor on her brain stem. By the time of the next MRI, the tumor had grown and moved down her spinal cord to below her shoulders. A biopsy revealed the tumor was a stage 3-4 glioma brain tumor.
“I was devastated. I think maybe as a woman, as the mom, because you’re the one carrying the kid, you feel a lot of guilt. You’re like, ‘What did I do to cause this?’ And for (the doctors) to look at you and say, ‘It’s just bad luck,’ I think that devastates me even more because you can’t even blame yourself,” Borden said.
Lily underwent emergency surgery as the tumor cut off her airway. Then she went through targeted chemotherapy. While the harsh treatment is difficult even for adults, Borden said Lily handled it like a “rock star.”
After weeks of chemotherapy at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, Lily was finally declared cancer-free in January. With the help of her mom, Lily’s small hand rang the bell January 25, signaling the successful end to her cancer treatment.
“We are so thankful for everything you guys have done,” Borden said to hospital staff in the video. “We would have lost everything in this journey and you guys are absolutely incredible.”
As for Lily’s future, Borden said she just hopes her daughter will grow up healthy and shares her survival story with others.
“I hope that (Lily) shares her story, to let people know that there is hope,” she said. “I hope she inspires other people to keep fighting the good fight and to not give up.”