December 2, 2005 - May 12, 2019

On February 17th, 2017, my eleven-year-old daughter Angelina (“Ina”) was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma. The brain tumor was located on her cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance, coordination, and other complex motor functions. After being diagnosed, Ina had been on an emotional roller coaster. For the most part, she was very confident that she would dominate the fight and beat the disease.

Ina initially spent 11 days in the hospital where she endured 3 surgeries and countless exams. She underwent major surgery to remove and reduce the tumor, but it could not be removed completely. The doctors recommended a 10-and-a-half month treatment plan in hopes of pushing the cancer into remission. Once she was released from the hospital, Ina and our family were able to return home for a short 2-week recovery following the procedure.

Angelina began her treatment journey on March 20. Ina and I had to travel 146-miles round trip, 5 days a week for her treatment. Ina received radiation treatment Monday-Friday, as well as chemo once a week during her 6-week radiation period. Upon completion of her 6-week radiation treatment, Ina began a more intense 9 months of chemotherapy. In addition to her radiation and chemotherapy treatment, Ina had to spend a great amount of time going through speech, physical, and occupational therapies. The doctors and staff were super awesome with accommodations to better soothe and meet her needs while she was there.

Angelina fought with everything she had through all of her treatments, exams, scans, and MRIs and she did it all with a big beautiful smile on her face. Once she had completed radiation and chemo treatments, she had an MRI and doctors said everything looked great. Ina was able to return home until her next check-up and MRI in 3 months. We left the hospital so happy and excited as if the biggest weight had been lifted off of us; it was the best feeling in the world.

We were very nervous for the 3-month check up and scan. After the MRI, we waited for the doctor to come in, and that 20 minutes felt like a lifetime! Finally, her doctor came in along with a nurse and a caseworker. The caseworker asked if Angelina and her brother wanted to go do arts and crafts leaving the doctor to tell us, her father and I, the very bad news.

The doctor told us that Ina’s scan showed her cancer had spread. She had multiple tumors on her brain, approximately 5, and it had also spread down her spine. There were tumors from the base of her skull down her tailbone, too many to count. The doctor explained that Ina’s cancer was extremely fast-growing and aggressive. At that point, with as fast as her cancer was spreading, there were no treatment options for her that would do any good – they would only cause her pain and discomfort along with making her sick. The doctor explained that Angelina only had 6 months to live, give or take, as they were unable to give us a definite answer. All that was left for us to do was to take her home and keep her as comfortable as possible.

We brought her home and did exactly that! Children’s Hospital Colorado set us up with hospice care, and so it began. Before we knew it, Ina had a hospital bed, bedside commode, and any and everything else that we needed to keep her as comfortable as possible. We moved our living room furniture around and set the hospital bed right next to the couch so she could be with all of us all of the time. We did everything we could to make the absolute best of the time she had left, and even though we were told everything about what was coming and what we needed to expect and prepare for, it was the hardest thing to watch as she worsened.

The more time that passed, the worse she got. There were times she would sleep for 3-4 days at a time not even waking to eat or potty, then she would be awake for a day or two. This went on for a little while until she went to sleep one day and never woke up. Ina slept for close to a week with hospice coming in daily checking on her, giving her bed baths, changing her clothes, and putting lotion her.

Angelina, my beautiful little angel, was only 13 years old when she passed away in our home on May 12th, 2019 (Mother’s Day) at 1:30 pm. I could feel it; I knew something wasn’t right. Her sister Julianna was laying in the bed with her and when I came inside from the porch, I took a picture of the two of them. I looked at her and very calmly asked Julianna to please get off her bed and I called hospice, they came and pronounced her. They gave us all the time we wanted with her before the funeral home came to get her. Ina’s grandmother, our good friend Jessica and her family, and a few other friends were there with us that day, the absolute worst day of our lives. After everyone had time to say their goodbyes, she was cleaned her up and dressed in a very beautiful outfit. My beautiful ANGEL now lives on my mantel where I get to see her every day.

Ina is survived by family that she absolutely loved: mom Kari, dad James, sister Julianna, brother Jameson, and 2 dogs.