As ABC News reports, Abigail was diagnosed in utero with a malignant brain tumor. Told by their doctors that the tumor was aggressive and cancerous, and that treatment would make no difference (and could hasten her death), Abigail’s parents accepted the inevitable and took their newborn daughter home to spend her last days together as a family.
Then, something happened that no one had expected. Not only did Abigail not die, she thrived. Despite the tumor and the fact that Abigail had also been born with Down syndrome, the newborn put on weight, grew, and began to react and respond to those around her.
As Abigail continued to defy expectations, her parents began to wonder if their baby really had to die after all. Allowing themselves to hope, they contacted the experts at Boston Children’s Hospital and asked for a second opinion.
Dr. Alan R. Cohen, neurosurgeon-in-chief at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Mark Kieran, chief of neuro-oncology, reviewed Abigail’s MRIs and saw something a little different. Abigail’s tumor, they thought, might not be malignant after all.
“I spoke to mom on the phone and told her that I thought there was enough question about the diagnosis that we should not give Abigail a death sentence,” said Dr. Cohen.
Erika Jones, Abigail’s mother, responded to that sliver of hope in an emotionalblog post where she talked about how— until that point— she hadn’t set up a nursery, gotten Abigail’s vaccinations, or done anything that a parent would do for a baby expected to live.
“It’s terrifying to put life back on the table. It scares me to hope,” Erika wrote. “But someone said to me, ‘you won’t regret hope’. So I’m allowing myself to hope, and pretty recklessly right now. Suddenly, I think my baby is going to live. Truly I do. Even though they still say it’s a very long shot. But I’ll take it.”
With that tiny chance that Abigail’s tumor wouldn’t be malignant, the Jones family went to Boston for more tests and a possible operation. The news they got from their doctor was the best imaginable.
Another MRI confirmed the doctors’ suspicions that the tumor wasn’t malignant. Abigail underwent an operation to have the tumor removed, and Dr. Cohen confirmed that it was benign. He also said that he does not expect it to return.
The good news was almost more than words could express for Erika Jones.
“Praising Him this morning!” she wrote on Facebook. “So consumed with joy. Can’t hardly breathe looking at this beautiful girl. My girl. I get to keep you!! I can’t wait to see your story unfold. To tell you how you are a living testimony of healing. Amazing. Overwhelmed!”
The family expressed their “eternal gratitude” to Dr. Cohen and the hospital staff, thanking them and God for having changed Abigail’s life forever.
Abigail’s prognosis is good, and the Jones family is hoping to leave Boston within the next few days. The whipsaw change from no hope to the promise of a full life has left Erika with a new perspective and a new mission.
“I cannot take this life for granted,” she wrote on her blog. “The calling is there, I don’t know what it is, but Abigail was spared for a significant reason. She is God’s pebble and her ripples will extend deep. Now what are we going to do with this miracle baby? Who, at 2 months, has been just born again and given a chance at life. Oh Lord help and guide us. She is Your vessel. She is living proof of Your greatness. She is a world changer.”
She held onto hope and loved her daughter anyway, and it was the best thing she could do.