OKLAHOMA CITY – 9-year-old Danielle Ballard is a fabulous young girl who loves fashion, makeup, and doesn’t complain about her frequent trips to the Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer because of all the friends she’s made there.
“She even likes coming up to do her MRI’s. She looks forward to it and the staff down there, too,” said her mom, Olivia Ballard.
Olivia says three years ago, Danielle’s doctor was suspicious about little spots all over her stomach, and ordered tests.
“It was very scary and shocking, and one of the first things they told me to do is, don’t look things up online, which is the first thing I wanted to do,” Olivia remembers.
What they found was a tumor, in a terrible place.
“Danielle’s tumors involved the brain stem” explained Doctor Renee McNall-Knapp. “It affects all the movement and also the cranial nerves, the nerves that go to the face and the throat and the hearing nerves and all of those.”
Dr. McNall-Knapp is treating Danielle for neurofibromatosis. Symptoms can range from harmless skin spots to life-threatening tumors deep inside the body involving nerve tissue. In Danielle’s case, the tumors have affected her facial muscles and speech. Chemotherapy is stalling the tumors from doing more damage.
“We have been able to have her stable neurologically” explains Dr. McNall-Knapp. “There’s no growth or new symptoms, she’s going to school, she’s thriving and you’ve met her, she’s delightful.”
And, Danielle’s mom says her school in Wilson, Oklahoma, has been extremely supportive.
“’They were supposed to have picture day today, but they moved it because of her so she wouldn’t miss picture day, She likes to keep up and do everything everyone else does,” Olivia said.
This pint-sized diva doesn’t plan on missing a thing.
If you want to help kids like Danielle fight cancer, consider donating to JECFriends.org.
‘Kids with Courage’ is sponsored by the Jimmy Everest Center.