July 10, 2013 – March 28, 2017
Stella was a free-spirited lover of life, learning, and Jesus. Some of her greatest joys in life included singing, dancing, coloring, and learning. She could usually be found playing with her brother Owen at home, at the park, or swimming on sunny days. Preschool was often the highlight of her week and she dreamed of being old enough to ride the bus to the "big kid" school. Nail polish and "lip" were some of her most treasured belongings and spa days were truly special occasions. Although she frequently dressed like a princess, she was well-grounded and very tender hearted.
In early November 2016 Stella began acting lethargic but showed no other noticeable signs of illness. The tiredness continued into late November when she also began acting a little more clumsy. There were still no significant indicators of a more serious illness, just little things that could be explained away with a growing child. Finally, in early December, her illness progressed to the point where she couldn’t fully smile; she couldn’t control some of the muscles in her face. She was taken to the doctor immediately and we were quickly sent to the hospital for a CT scan. The scan results showed a large mass near her brain stem. That night, Dec 13th, we arrived at Children’s Hospital in Denver for more tests. Testing, treatment, and a whole lot of uncertainty continued for most of December.
Finally, on December 28th, we received her diagnosis. On that day, our lives changed. Diffuse Midline Glioma often referred to as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare form of pediatric brain cancer. Her specific diagnosis was the H3 K27M mutation which is typically one of the most aggressive varieties. There was no cure, and no chance of survival. The only treatment options we had were focused on improving her quality of life and, at best, extending her life for a few months. We opted for the short course radiation treatment which minimized the time she would have to spend away from her home and family, including her little brother Elliott who was born less than a month after her diagnosis.
Stella joined her angel friends on March 23, 2017 after her courageous three month fight with DIPG. Although she was taken too soon, she left a lasting impression on many. Her time may have been short, but the quality of life she led was immeasurable. She was a wonderful daughter, sister, and friend to many. In many ways, the calmness and comfort she displayed during her final months put those around her at ease. She used to say that people who were full of kindness and caring had “pink hearts”. She had the pinkest of hearts and would naturally bring a smile to everyone she met.