Brianna “Brie" Mestrovich was only 9 years old when she was diagnosed with pediatric cancer. The West Palm Beach native was referred to the Nicklaus Children's Palm Beach Gardens Outpatient center for an MRI because she was experiencing recurrent headaches that did not go away after several months. Within hours of the test, the family received the devastating news that Brie had a golf-ball sized tumor in her brain. They dropped everything to pick up Brie from school to make the 1.5 hour drive to Nicklaus Children's Hospital.
Dr. Toba Niazi, pediatric neurosurgeon and medical director of neuro-oncology surgical services, met with the family and told them Brianna needed surgery right away. There was no time to wait. The 12-hour surgery was successful and Dr. Niazi was able to remove the tumor. A biopsy revealed it was a medulloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor that would require chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Brie spent about a year and a half traveling to Miami for medical treatments. She also had to undergo rehabilitation to learn how to walk and talk again. The family says they are grateful to Nicklaus Children's for scheduling appointments within the same day or two days, to reduce the amount of time the family had to drive back and forth from West Palm Beach.
Although it was a tough journey for such a young child, she turned her focus on her schoolwork; something her parents say helped her keep her mind off being sick. Her twin sister Gigi also played an important role in her recovery. She was usually by her side and encouraging her to partake in the children's experience programs, like Radio Lollipop.
Brianna is now turning 12 and feeling great, attending school and focusing on her faith. Way to go Brie!