Danielle Chase was taking photos at a baby shower in early August when she noticed that when she asked her 7-year-old daughter Izabella to smile, only one half of her mouth was moving.
“Izzy, why aren’t you smiling?” Chase recalls asking her daughter over and over again before the little girl told her, “I am, Mom.”
That, combined with a bunch of recent stumbles and unusual clumsiness, prompted the Flushing mom to take the second-grader to the hospital .
“Never in a million years did I think they were going to tell me she had brain cancer,” Chase said about the heartbreaking moment when doctors at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center discovered a Grade 1 cancerous tumor. “Everything moved really fast after that.”
On Aug. 3, just two days after taking Izabella to the hospital, the doctors attempted to remove the tumor. Sadly, they couldn’t get all of it. A piece was left too deep in the brain for surgeons to reach without risking brain damage, her mom said.
Instead, Izabella needs a scan every two months to monitor the tumor, which they fear will continue to grow and require treatment. She also has a shunt in her brain that releases spinal fluid into her stomach, and she has to deal with the loss of sight from the surgery.
“I felt like I was ice skating on one foot,” Izabella said, describing the clumsy sensation she felt before the surgery. “But now I feel like I’m ice skating on two feet and I’m slipping everywhere.”
Chase, a single mother who had to quit her job to take care of Izabella, is overwhelmed with medical bills and the family has an online fund for donations. Chase will hold a charity event at Tequila Sunrise on Nov. 16 to raise money for Izabella’s medical bills.
“If I ask people for anything, I ask them for prayers first before money,” Chase said.
Izabella had to be taken out of her school, Sacred Heart Elementary School in Bayside, because of her severely reduced vision. She will be starting home schooling soon and Sacred Heart’s administrators have been very supportive, according to Chase.
Izabella says she wants to be a surgeon when she grows up and help little kids like herself. Every once in a while she thinks back to early August.
“And she tells me, ‘Mommy, remember that brain ball they took out of me. I’m going to take it and send it straight to hell,’” Chase said.