By Juan Soto
Little Izabella Gamarra cut her waist-long brunette hair in the summer to donate it to kids suffering from hair loss to cancer and other illnesses.
The following day, Izzy, 7, began to lose her balance and her mother noticed something unusual about her upper lip.
“A part of her lips wasn’t going up, so I decided to take her to the emergency room,” said Izzy’s mother, Danielle Chase. “The next day doctors did an MRI,”
The results that came back were devastating. Doctors at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center, part of the North Shore-LIJ hospital complex, found a golf ball size tumor in her head.
She began the fight for her life.
“Your heart just breaks,” Chase said. “Luckily, she’s doing well.”
Two days after Izzy went into the emergency room, on Aug. 3, she underwent brain tumor surgery.
“The surgery went well,” Izzy’s mother said.
Chase pointed out that, unfortunately, the doctors were not able to remove the whole tumor.
“There is still a small piece left, but doctors believe it won’t grow,” she said.
Every two months, Izzy, a second-grader at Sacred Heart School in Bayside, goes for an MRI to make sure the tumor does not get worse.
“If it doesn’t bother her, and if it doesn’t grow, doctors say it’s best to just let it be instead of another surgery,” Chase said.
When Karen Chase, Izzy’s grandmother, heard the bad news, she was in shock.
“I went numb. It’s very scary,” she said. “But I have my faith, family and friends.”
The only complication came after Izzy underwent a brain shunt to relieve pressure. Because of the procedure, her mother said, she lost some vision.
“We pray her vision goes back to normal,” she said.
To help pay the medical bills, her family, friends and parents at Sacred Heart held a Ifund-raiser Sunday at Tequila Sunrise Restaurant, at Bell Boulevard.
More than 100 people showed up after fliers promoting the event were distributed in Bayside. Lots of kids attended.
“It was awesome,” Chase said. “So many people came, and I want to thank them all.”
A lot of the guests wore T-shirts that read “Izzy’s fight.”
The event was scheduled from 1-4 p.m., but it was such a success it lasted until about 5:30 p.m. There was a buffet, raffles and face painting. Raffle prizes included New York Knicks and New York Mets tickets, hotel reservations and gift baskets. Everything was donated by family and friends.
“She bounced back pretty well,” Chase said, as Izzy was running around the restaurant playing with her friends and schoolmates.
Izzy’s mother was happy to see all the support she is getting for her child.
“She knows what she is going through. Luckily, she (Izzy) is in good spirits.”
Moments before the fund-raiser officially started, Izzy was playing with her best friend Grace.
“You look so beautiful,” Chase told her daughter. “She has been very strong for us.”
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.