Like most 6-year-old girls, Lauren Davidson has Bieber Fever. But unlike her fellow fans, she also has a brain tumor.
First diagnosed at age 2 1/2, Lauren has undergone countless surgeries and treatments to remove the pilocytic astrocytoma tumor on her brain stem. Although this type of tumor is benign, it can grow very large and cause a build-up of fluid in the brain, affecting speech and balance.
But when Lauren just needs to be a kid again – and not a kid with a brain tumor – she turns to the music of Justin Bieber.
"She just loves Justin Bieber," Cindy Davidson said. "She definitely has Bieber Fever."
The extended Davidson family is planning a bowling fund-raiser Saturday, July 28, in Macomb, Mi to help Lauren’s family cover the cost of treatment and travel.
Finding the tumor
“When Lauren was 2-and-a-half I brought her home from daycare and she had flu-like symptoms,” remembers Lauren’s mother Cindy. “I carried her into the house to call the doctor and stood her up in the family room. She fell over. I stood her back up and she fell over again, so I took her to the ER.”
Doctors immediately diagnosed Lauren with hydrocephalus, or fluid in the brain, and discovered the tumor on her brain stem soon after. For the next year, doctors monitored the tumor’s growth until it was determined it needed to be removed.
“We went in and did a 12-hour surgery,” Cindy Davidson said. “The whole family waited in the lobby. When she came out of surgery her eyes were rolled back in her head. But after four to five days on a ventilator, her eyes started coming back and soon she was back to normal.”
With the surgery a success, Lauren returned to a tumor-free existence, starting kindergarten at just last year. But then an MRI reveled the tumor had re-grown.
A new treatment for a new tumor
Having the option of subjecting Lauren to radiation treatment in Michigan, or trying the much less damaging proton therapy in Oklahoma, the Davidson family left their home in Macomb to spend the summer in Oklahoma City. Here Lauren will undergo six weeks of 45-minute-a-day treatments with the expectation that the tumor cells will be killed off and the tumor shrunk to nothing.
“She has good days and bad,” Cindy Davidson said. “She found out for the first time last week that she had a brain tumor. We hadn’t told her everything. She wasn’t old enough to understand the first time, but sitting in a hotel with other kids who have brain tumors she began to ask questions. That was difficult for us.”
But Lauren has taken it in stride.
“The neighbors at home call her an ‘old soul,’ saying she’s been on this earth before,” Cindy Davidson said. “She’s a different kind of kid. The most important thing to her is her family and her friends.”
However, Lauren is far from alone in her fight. She is joined in Oklahoma by her older twin sisters and her own twin brother, who will be there to offer their support throughout the treatment.
“They all know what’s going on and the older two know how critical it is,” Cindy Davidson said. “They know it’s life threatening and they need to be cooperative. They’ve all been so good about it.”
Family organizes fund-raiser
The fundraising event to help pay for her treatment and travel costs will be held Saturday, July 28 at 5-Star Lanes in Sterling Heights, 2666 Metropolitan Parkway. At $25 a person, guests receive three games of bowling as well as a dinner of pizza and pop. Those who don’t want to bowl, but would like to join the pizza party or raffles, can do so for $15.
Check-in starts at 6:30 p.m. and the games get underway at 7 p.m. Community members are asked to RSVP to email@example.com and pay cash at the door.
“Come out and support the family,” urges Teresa St. Onge, Lauren’s aunt and the event’s organizer. “(Lauren) is such a sweetheart.”