Sweet and petite four-year-old Zhuri loves Peppa Pig, playing with her dolls, and most of all, being a big sister to her baby brother. ASK mom Talia’s “little daredevil” has faced adversity her entire life, a battle that reached its tipping point when Zhuri was diagnosed with Pilocytic Astrocytoma – a rare type of brain tumor – at just three years old.
Zhuri struggled with health issues long before her cancer diagnosis. For years, she would vomit after every meal. Doctors misdiagnosed her with gastric intestinal issues and resorted to feeding tubes to get Zhuri the nutrition she needed to survive. Even so, she stopped gaining weight. As a toddler, she still wore baby clothes. Concerned and desperate for answers, Zhuri’s parents urged doctors for more consultations and tests. An MRI scanning for chemical imbalances finally revealed the culprit: a tumor in Zhuri’s brain. Soon after, she and her family were introduced to ASK.
“At our first appointment in the ASK Clinic, Ms. Katie brought Play-Doh to Zhuri and introduced us to many of the programs for pediatric cancer patients and their families," remembers Talia. "We felt an immediate sense of relief in the midst of so much confusion and heartbreak.”
“They have helped us in big and small ways. From financial aid and gas cards to help ease our financial burdens to a friendly smile and something as simple as Play-Doh, ASK is always present to help make our lives better,” she continues.
“Truly, ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation has blessed us throughout this process, and I can’t imagine going through a childhood cancer diagnosis without the people, programs and services of ASK.” - Talia, ASK mom
Surgery is not an option for Zhuri because of where the tumor is located in her brain. While the treatments keeping the mass at bay have created new developmental hurdles to overcome as Zhuri grows, her family knows she’ll have a community of support by her side to face every challenge that comes her way.
“Although Zhuri is very tiny, we’ve come a long way,” laughs Talia. “Her speech is delayed, and we believe she has some processing issues, but she is a fighter, and the chemo seems to be keeping the tumor from growing more.”
“I went into this journey expecting the worst, but Zhuri’s demeanor and joy in spite of her circumstances have been an inspiration to all of us, and ASK gives us hope and happiness every day,” Talia gushes. “We remain positive and refuse to succumb to negative emotion. We will always have hope in this situation.”