Amazing Grace: The photos that captured our daughter's winning moment

August 6, 2014
Topics: Riley Kid Story, Cancer (oncology)

Grace Bennett
Amazing Grace!


When Grace was 3-and-a-half years old, she was diagnosed with a Grade II Oligoastrocytoma brain tumor. She had a right frontal resection/full craniotomy at Riley Hospital on March 1, 2010. Neurosurgeon Dr. Joel Boaz was able to remove a small portion of her tumor. The remainder was surrounded by a blood barrier. She underwent two years of chemo to try to kill anything remaining.


Grace finished treatment on February 14, 2012. In the fall of 2013, Grace started zoning off and became emotional and irritable. My gut was saying something wasn’t right. During a visit to my sister in Missouri, Grace had a full blown seizure and was unresponsive for 12 minutes! Belton Medical Center worked with Riley Hospital to get treatment started and then we traveled home the following day. We then met with Riley Neurosurgeon Dr. Joel Boaz, and he wanted to watch her closely.

Grace began having big seizures about every four weeks. Then, in January 2014 she had three in one weekend. Dr. Boaz said he felt surgery was the only option. He told us that his colleague, Dr. Jodi Smith, was the best surgeon to handle Grace’s case. We love Dr. Boaz and have great respect for him, and so we trusted him in this decision.


Grace broke down and did not want to go through another surgery. She wasn’t that innocent 3-year-old anymore. She was more aware of what was going on and what could happen. After meeting Dr. Smith, we immediately knew she was going to take care of Grace. Grace loved her!

Surgery day came on March 31st of this year. After 12 hours, my husband Chris and I were called in to talk to Dr. Smith. She said that when she started surgery, Grace was having seizures every two minutes. Dr. Smith removed a cyst, some surrounding brain tissue that was dead and 99% of the tumor!


Grace had some left side weakness and bilateral coordination issues. She started physical therapy immediately and started school work the following week.

After three weeks, Grace asked Dr. Smith if she could go back to school and play softball. Dr. Smith gave her the thumbs up! That weekend Grace played in her first tournament.


This week, Grace had her four month post-op appointment. Dr. Smith said, “Grace, you make me look good, kiddo!” She said Grace’s brain was healing great, and the MRI showed that only about 1% of her tumor remains!

Grace will have another MRI in six months and then we can hopefully graduate to every year. Grace loves Dr. Smith and so grateful for all she has done for her! Every time I see Dr. Smith I am filled with emotion.

I could never thank her enough for what she has done for Amazing Grace!


Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.

comments powered by Disqus

Browse More Blog Posts

View Blog Posts by Category
Sign up for Riley Blog Emails