I have a teenage friend named Betsy. Betsy loves dark nail polish, wildly-colored hair and skinny jeans. She draws anime like a pro. She would give her life for her family and friends.
Betsy is home-schooled. She cannot go to school because for the past eight years she has suffered from extreme dizziness, migraines, and vision problems. In November 2003, when she was only eight, she was diagnosed with a tumor in her brainstem. Two surgeries reduced the size of the tumor, but it lies in such a place where surgeons cannot excise it altogether. Perhaps one day the technology will provide a cure. But for now, Betsy lives with the symptoms — symptoms that prohibit normal life activities like school and work and travel.
At times Betsy calls herself Betzy Breakdown, and less frequently Betzy Believe. Life can be depressing when you find yourself stranded in a small town in a big world where the future hovers, dark and uncertain. But she grabs the lifelines – drawing, music, family, friends – and presses on. Her mom says, “my daughter is my hero.” She’s my hero, too, and my friend. Support Betsy (and Betzy) through a holiday purchase from Children’s Art Project. Her Snow Dog ornament makes a great stocking stuffer.
(M.D. Anderson’s Children’s Art Project raises funds for patient support that directly benefits kids like Betsy.)