Nine-year-old Ciara Brill had a cold over the Christmas holidays.
Then she began complaining of headaches. “We gave her some Tylenol and the headaches would go away,” her dad, Harold, told InsideEdition.com Thursday.
But then they got worse. She woke up Christmas morning with a lazy eye. Four days later, she was diagnosed with a fast-growing, inoperable brain tumor.
The doctors told Ciara’s parents, “We’re not talking years, we’re talking weeks to months,” her father recalled.
“We just tried to wrap our heads around that. It’s extremely hard. We’re in a living hell right now,” he added.
After weeping and plummeting into an abyss of despair, the little girl’s family decided sorrow could wait.
For now, the focus of life for the Brill family is to make Ciara smile every day. Her father established a GoFundMe page to raise money to show his daughter as much happiness as he can, in the time that she has left.
“We just want her to enjoy every day that she has right now,” her dad said. “We are going to show her the world.”
But first, Ciara will undergo a grueling regimen of radiation therapy — five days a week for six weeks — not in the hopes of curing her extremely rare cancer, but as a means of buying time.
Ciara has diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a particularly aggressive cancer that afflicts mostly children.
Her parents hope to take her to Hawaii, New York, Arizona and many points between. If she’s up to it, they would love to take her overseas.
As of Thursday evening, her online fundraising account had received nearly $82,000 toward the family’s goal of $100,000.
“She knows she’s very, very sick,” as does her 10-year-old brother, who’s also her best friend, said Harold. “She knows that cancer is very, very bad.”
But the children haven’t been told anything more specific than that. Her parents see no reason in saying much else.
“Our big focus is just to put a smile on her face,” said her mom, Stacie. “We just want to be together as a family. If we woke up every day dwelling on it, it would take away from time spent with her.
“We pray for the best,” she said.