Harlie was undergoing a routine eye exam in preparation for the start of kindergarten, when the optometrist noticed something just wasn’t right. The optometrist observed abnormal, rapid movement of Harlie’s eyes. Following this assessment, Harlie visited an ophthalmologist, who suggested a CT scan.
Harlie’s parents received a call from the ophthalmologist on April Fool’s Day of 2011, but it was no practical joke. The ophthalmologist relayed the CT scan revealed a softball-sized brain tumor directly behind Harlie’s eyes.
After this news, Harlie was immediately sent to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for the first of many diagnostic tests. “I knew that day our child was the strongest, most brave person I had ever met,” Lisa reveals. “Once she was sedated for her MRI, walking away from her was almost unbearable."
The MRI revealed a tumor in Harlie’s brain, which was integrated into her optical nerve and affecting her carotid artery and hypothalamus. The tumor was, and still is a pilocytic astrocytoma, otherwise known by Harlie as her “brain booger."
The initial treatment plan included a ten hour surgery with only twenty percent of the tumor removed, and chemotherapy to follow. There was no change in the status of the tumor, thus chemotherapy was stopped. Proton radiation therapy was the next possible treatment. In June 2014, Harlie and her parents traveled to Dallas, Texas for a six week treatment at MD Anderson. Follow-up diagnostic testing revealed a slight decrease in the size of the tumor.
Harlie and her parents currently travel to Cincinnati, Ohio every three months for diagnostic testing to monitor the status of the tumor.