January 23, 2019 I received the phone call every parent prays they will never receive. It was 10:30pm and I received a call from my daughter, Cynthia’s boyfriend that she was having trouble speaking coherently and was disoriented. He told me he wanted to take her to the emergency room in Fayetteville, AR, where she attends college. I agreed and told him I would meet him at the hospital but we live in Tulsa, OK which is two hours away. On the drive to Fayetteville, we received another phone call telling us that the CT scan showed a mass on Cynthia’s brain. By the time we reached the hospital our worst fears were confirmed. Cynthia had a tumor in her brain the size of the surgeon’s fist and would require surgery. On January 25, Cynthia underwent a craniotomy to remove the tumor. The pathology report confirmed our next greatest fear. The tumor was a grade 4 glioblastoma, the most aggressive cancer that begins in the brain.
Cynthia’s surgery went very well and the surgeon was confident he removed most all of the tumor that he could safely remove. The speed of Cynthia’s recovery from surgery amazed everyone who worked with her, from the nurses and doctors at the hospital and then at the rehabilitation hospital. Cynthia still has a long way to go. She will begin a regiment of radiation and chemotherapy at the same time followed by more chemotherapy after a resting period and possibly other procedures after that.
Many people who have been praying for my daughter don’t even really know her and don’t even realize that while yes, it was a significant event because she was a loved daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, roommate, friend, etc... there was much more to her story. I wanted to take an opportunity to tell you about her and tell you why what she is going through is so significant and at the same time amazing.
Cynthia is 20 years old and a Junior at the University of Arkansas. My daughter is smart. I mean SCARY smart. In Kindergarten her teacher held a competition to see which student could read the most books by the end of the school year. To add to her motivation, I told her that I would pay her $1 for every book she read. She won the competition and it cost me over $50. I have often said that $50 was the best investment I have EVER made. Her love for reading continued to bloom and her thirst for knowledge grew along with it. She was pretty much a straight A student. Her teachers will tell you she was the kind of student that would be upset with herself if an assignment received lower than an A. In 7th grade, her state testing scores qualified her to be invited to participate in the Duke TIP program that allowed her to take the ACT college readiness exam. Her score was high enough that the test indicated she was ready for college as a 7th grader!!
When it came time to take the test in high school, she scored a 31 which is outstanding but she wasn’t satisfied with that and took the test again. This time she made a 34!!! That score along with an outstanding interview lead her to not only be offered a scholarship to the University of Arkansas, but one step higher. She would become a fellow, earning a Fellowship to attend the U of A in their Honors College. She entered college already having 29 college credits because of AP high school courses and concurrent college classes while still in high school. While growing up she had one career goal that never wavered since the 3rd grade. She wanted to be a pediatrician. She is a DOUBLE major of Pre-med Biology AND Psychology, but she wasn’t satisfied with just those two hard majors, she also is obtaining a minor in French! This is all incredible when you recognize this all had been accomplished while unknown to any of us there was this growing tumor in her brain. Only FIVE days earlier before she entered the hospital, this incredible young woman completed the MCAT (medical school entrance exam)!
And then..... 5 days later that incredible future seemed to now be in question.
I don’t know what exactly will happen. I know one thing and it is the most important thing..... my daughter is alive!! She has survived a 4 hour long surgery to remove the huge tumor and is getting stronger and better everyday since that surgery. College for now is on hold. We contacted the university and found out the procedure for withdrawing for this semester. We hope that she will only be out one semester and then be right back on track to return to college this coming fall. I know my daughter, she is stubborn and strong. If anyone can do this it is her! So, this is for who you are praying. Praying that not only does God heal her body but that He also keeps the world from being robbed of an incredible doctor that one day will have an impact on hundreds and thousands of lives. As always, my family cherishes your prayers and support and we love each and every one of you!