Saturday, August 12, 2017

Easton Brueger

Easton Curtiss Brueger
August 11, 2004 - December 30, 2012
Easton was born on August 11, 2004 to Justin Brueger and Pamela Rogers. He was a third grade student. He liked playing with his cousins, riding four-wheelers, fishing, doing anything outside, playing video games, playing with Legos, and playing with Nerf guns. He also liked taking photographs of birds and reading history books. One of his best friends was his dog, Buddy, whom he found and rescued.

Easton passed away due to an accidental gunshot wound. He had been with his father, Justin, at the time. Justin was cleaning his gun when it accidentally went off, shooting Justin in his stomach. Justin was taken to the hospital where he later passed away due to the injury. Police charged Justin for Easton's death, saying that he put Easton at "unreasonable risk of harm" by pointing the gun in his direction while cleaning it.

Justin told the court, "I just want to say I'm very sorry to my son." He was placed on a $10,000 bond and all guns were ordered to be removed from his home. He was also ordered to stay away from Easton's mother and her family. 

Tacari Briggs

Tacari Danielle Renee Briggs
June 17, 2011 - February 27, 2013

Tacari was born on June 17, 2011 to Lance Briggs and Delana Aquirre. She had three brothers named Jarviyon, Cordaye, and Xavier. She had three sisters named Shatorrid, Zephanie, and Sakayla. She was a happy little girl that liked wrestling with her brothers and feeding her dog, Rose. She also liked climbing into the refrigerator and riding her rocking horse.

Tacari passed away after being a victim of a shooting. A man named Robert Friar shot into a bedroom of her home where she and her mother, Delana, were sleeping. Delana was also shot multiple times in her torso. Delana's mother called 911 saying that somebody had shot her daughter and her granddaughter. Both Tacari and Delana were rushed the the hospital where Tacari was pronounced deceased. Her mother was airlifted to another hospital where she was treated. She survived and recovered.

Delana had previously been in a relationship with Robert Friar. He had threatened her before shooting her, telling her in a text message that she should "kiss her mom and kids goodbye." Shortly before the shooting, Robert had called her and told her something that she couldn't make out. When she asked what he had said, he hung up. Then the shooting started. Police found Robert after the shooting and took him into custody. 

Robert was convicted of one count of capital murder, two counts of attempted murder, and seven counts of committing a terroristic act. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole and an additional 165 years in prison.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Julia Barbara

Julia Barbara
--- - May 17, 2016
Julia was a happy little girl who loved anything that was considered girly. She had an older brother whom she adored very much as well. She liked dressing up as a princess and playing with her brother. Julia and her family spent Thanksgiving 2015 on the beach. She appeared completely healthy then, and she had never had any major medical issues at all. After Thanksgiving, however, Julia's parents began to notice that she had some issues with her balance and her facial movements seemed a bit off. They assumed that she had a simple ear infection.

On December 14, 2015, Julia's parents took her to the pediatrician. The pediatrician decided Julia should have a CAT scan. The CAT scan revealed that Julia had a brain tumor so an MRI was done. The next day, Julia's family went back to the hospital and waited for the results of the MRI. Then, they were told that Julia had a rare form of childhood cancer. This cancer is called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, often called "DIPG." DIPG is located in the brain stem, making it inoperable. There is no cure for DIPG, although there are treatments that will help reduce symptoms for a period of time so the child can have a more normal life, until the symptoms return, often worse than before, and claim the child's life. No child has ever lived long-term after being diagnosed with DIPG.

Julia's parents had two options:  Take Julia home and watch her decline quickly, which doctors said would happen, as brain tumors progress very quickly, or begin radiation treatment with an experimental chemotherapy drug which would prolong Julia's life. Her parents decided to try and prolong Julia's life, hoping that she would live an extra nine months than she would if no treatment was given.

Julia began six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy. Julia was sedated five days a week to have radiation treatment. Some aspect of the treatment made Julia feel very nauseous, so she also began taking medication for that constantly. Julia lost the use of the right side of her body, so she could no longer walk and had issues swallowing. She was also put on steroids which made her gain a lot of weight. She was always hungry. The medication made her blood pressure rise and gave her insomnia. 

Along with all these other symptoms, Julia's personality changed. Sometimes nothing could make her laugh or even smile. After six weeks of treatment, Julia got to return home. She was weaned off of steroids and it looked like radiation had shrunk her tumor. She regained the use of her right side, so she could walk by herself again. Test results showed that the chemotherapy drug she had been taking had no effect on the tumor, so she stopped taking it. 

A few weeks after returning home, Make-A-Wish helped Julia and her family go visit other family members in Europe. Julia lost the ability to move the right side of her body again and experienced headaches and nausea. She had an MRI which revealed that she had hydrocephalus, which is extra fluid in her brain. She also had radiation necrosis, which is the destruction of her healthy brain cells due to radiation. Julia was admitted into the hospital again.

To relieve the pressure in Julia's brain, she had to have surgery. This surgery did not relieve the pressure as was hoped, so Julia had to have a second surgery involving a shunt placed in her brain. The top of the shunt was connected to a valve to control the flow of fluid in her brain. The shunt extended through Julia's body and down to her stomach. This surgery was successful, but came with many side effects. Julia's eyesight was impaired. She had a large incision on her scalp. She also had to take a heavy dose of steroids.

In April, Julia was taking two times the steroids she was initially prescribed. She did not regain the use of the right side of her body this time, although they did help with reducing radiation necrosis. In late April she began to be weaned off steroids again. On May 17, 2016, Julia was still taking a lower dose of steroids. Her mobility never improved. That morning, Julia's family woke up to discover that Julia had passed away in her sleep at the family home. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Natasha Gould

Natasha Rose Gould
January 28, 2004 - August 4, 2016
Natasha was born on January 28, 2004. On May 1, 2015, Natasha's mother took her to the hospital because she felt weak in her left arm and her left leg. She had also been experiencing double vision. Doctors gave Natasha and MRI. The MRI revealed that Natasha had a brain tumor in her brain stem. This was a form of cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.

Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma is often just called "DIPG." DIPG is a rare form of childhood cancer that no cure has been developed for. Due to its location, the tumor is unable to be surgically removed. There are treatments for DIPG that will improve the quality of life for children diagnosed with it for a short period of time before the cancer ultimately comes back and claims the child's life. No child has ever survived DIPG long term.

Natasha bravely fought DIPG for fifteen months. She even kept a blog as she battled cancer. She passed away on August 4, 2016. 


Azalea Harper

Azalea Harper
May 17, 2011 - January 3, 2015
Azalea was born on May 17, 2011 to Delilah and Dee. Those who knew her gave her the nickname "Azzy." On Azalea's third birthday, in 2014, she had a birthday party filled with a lot of fun. The next day her family noticed that she was limping. They were not that concerned and thought she might have just hurt herself a bit and that she would be back to normal soon.

The next day, Azalea was still limping. Her family prepared to take her to the doctor. When they told her to put her shirt on, they noticed that she had trouble lifting her right arm to do so. Her father began to worry a bit more but he thought that it was likely that she had fallen and hurt herself during the excitement of her birthday party two days before. 

A few hours after this, Azalea and her mother, Delilah, went to the hospital. Six hours later Delilah called Azalea's father and told him that he needed to come to the hospital because Azalea was having an MRI. He went to the hospital and talked to a few doctors. The family waited in the waiting room for the results of the MRI. When they were finished, four doctors came into the room to talk to Azalea's parents.

One doctor told them that he was sorry and that he had hoped Azalea had a stroke, but they had discovered that something much more serious was happening. There was a tumor in Azalea's brain stem that was the size of a golf ball. It was a form of cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, often referred to as DIPG.

There is no cure for DIPG and it cannot be surgically removed due to its location in the brain. While there are treatments for DIPG, they only help reduce symptoms for a short period of time, allowing the child to have a few months where they can have what is considered a "normal life" before the cancer comes back stronger than ever and ultimately takes the child's life. No child has survived DIPG long-term.

Azalea's father asked how long Azalea had to live. Doctors weren't sure, but because Azalea's tumor was so large, they guessed that she only had six to eight weeks left. They were told they could treat Azalea with radiation and chemotherapy to attempt to prolong her life. Friends suggested the family look into cannabis oil. They got their medical marijuana license and were able to treat Azalea with the oil. In addition, she went through six weeks of radiation.

During treatments, Azalea was feeling quite ill. She stopped eating, talking, and walking. The cannabis oil helped her walk and talk again. When Azalea got another MRI, the tumor had shrunk by 67%. Azalea got a bit better. The third MRI, unfortunately, showed that the tumor had not shrunk at all, but the good news was that it had not grown larger either. 

After her last radiation treatment, doctors were impressed that Azalea was doing so well. She was up singing and dancing. Her family created a GoFundMe page to be able to continue buying her the expensive cannabis oil. People donated, but when they saw Azalea feeling well enough to play, they began to stop donating. They assumed she was getting better, even though she needed the expensive treatments to stay feeling better.

In late December, Azalea began feeling very sick and weak again. On December 20, she had her fourth MRI. This time, the tumor was as big as it was during her first MRI. Her family was told that she did not have much longer to live and hospice was called. She was able to spend Christmas with her family and open some of her presents.

On December 28, Azalea began breathing oddly. The doctor told her family that she probably only had about a day left to live. They notified everyone in their family so they could come say goodbye. On January 2, Azalea's breathing was even worse. Her family called the hospice doctor who informed them that Azalea was in the process of dying and that she only had an hour or two left. Friends and family were called to say goodbye. 

The hospice doctor gave Azalea's family more medications to be sure that she was not in pain during the process. Around sixty friends and family members came to be with Azalea. Azalea's mother was holding her and her father was beside her as she took her last breath on January 3. 

Defeat DIPG