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Rayna – 1 Year Old

July 30, 2010

Fridays are Inspiration Days. In order to find my post for the day, I peruse the St. Jude Patient of the Month Archives, and I pull a patient’s story that really pulls at my heart. (Note: I basically feature the first child I click on since it’s impossible to read about any kid without feeling it tighten my throat.) Anyway, I didn’t think it would come this soon, but today’s Inspiration has brought me to tears (and it’s only the third week in for ‘Inspiration Fridays.’ Oh no!).

Read on about Rayna who is the January 2010 Patient of the Month, and you’ll see why I couldn’t help but shed a few:

Rayna Gibson
1 year old


A tumor was found in Rayna’s brain that turned out to be a rare and dangerous cancer known as primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET).

Rayna’s Story:

When she was 6 months old, little Rayna began throwing up. At first, her mom thought it was acid reflux, but she realized it must be something more serious when the episodes became more frequent and Rayna would turn red and had trouble swallowing.

Rayna’s mom thought her baby was having seizures. She remembered, “It was devastating, especially because Rayna was healthy—she never had any problems.”

After a series of doctor visits, her family was shocked to learn that their baby girl had a mass on her brain. “When we left the house that morning, I thought, at worst, Rayna would be taking seizure medicine,” her mom said. “I never imagined we’d have a baby with a tumor.”

Rayna was immediately sent to a local hospital where doctors operated to remove as much of the tumor as possible, but because of the size and location of the tumor, they were unable to remove it all.

After her surgery, Rayna’s family prayed to find the best place for their daughter’s treatment. After extensive research, the family worked with their doctor to get a referral to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®.

The family prepared to leave right away for the eight-hour drive to Memphis—a drive that seemed like an eternity.  Her mom said, “A drive like that—under these circumstances—seems like a million miles.”

At St. Jude:

Doctors determined that Rayna suffered from primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET), a rare and aggressive tumor. She began receiving chemotherapy and she required a second brain surgery. She is currently receiving proton radiation.

Rayna’s mom is grateful for the care her little girl has received. “It’s been a tough road, but it’s easier thanks to St. Jude,” she said.

Rayna loves to play with toys that make noise.

Editor’s Note: We regret to inform you that Rayna passed away on March 20, 2010.

And there you have it readers: the “Editor’s Note.” I will forever dread “Editor’s Note(s)”

Dear Rayna, in heaven, tomorrow’s 6 mile run is for you and your family. Your Mom said the 8 hour drive felt “like a million miles.” When I think 26.2 miles seems unbearable, I will always think of you and your Mom.

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