Mia's Mission: A family's fight against brain cancer

It's something no parent, should ever have to face, but it's a reality.
Research shows fifteen thousand kids every year are diagnosed with cancer ... many never go into remission. After accidents, cancer is the second leading cause of death in children. We often don't hear or see these stories because of the monumental pain.

This spring, one-year-old Mia was diagnosed with brain cancer. When several rounds of chemo didn't work, they returned home from St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis.

This tiny warrior's lifelong battle is almost over. Her parents were told they only have a few weeks left to hold their child. Mia is trying to rest comfortably in her mother's devoted hands.

"This is where I am ... twenty-four hours a day," said Anessa Richardson.

Anessa has sat on one side of the couch for about a week.

"She will not move off my lap. She stays right here with Mommy. Chemo doesn't work with leptomeningeal disease ... nothing does. There's no treatment," she said.

Holding onto her little fingers, Scott and Anessa know these moments will soon be memories.

"Christmas. I don't get Christmas with her. We don't get to buy presents for her. I don't get to do birthday parties for her. I don't get to braid her hair. I don't get to send her to school," she cried.

"Right now the goal is to get her to her birthday," Scott said.

Mia takes about a dozen medications to ease the pain, seizures and swelling.

"I don't want any other family to have to do this. Ever," said Anessa.

That's their Mission ... make that Mia's Mission. Anessa and Scott want you to know the early signs of brain cancer.

"If you think something is wrong and you have a gut feeling it's wrong ... you need to go. You need to push," said Scott.

Mia had ear infections, severe vision problems and motion sickness. Mia's Mission isn't just about awareness, it's about pushing for more research.

"You hear your kids are your future ... and you don't put money into it," Scott said.

The National Cancer Institute spends less than four percent of its budget on childhood cancers. Brain cancer has replaced leukemia as the leading cause of cancer deaths among kids.

"They've never seen her tumor before. They don't know what kind it is. They know what it could be similar to, but it's not. There's no classification for it. They've never seen it," Anessa said.

A few days later, Mia woke up on her second birthday and made a sound her parents hadn't heard in awhile. She giggled. She later died that day.

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Mercy’s Jane Pitt Pediatric Cancer Center (part of Mercy Kids) 417-820-6111.