BATAVIA – All Tami Wilson wanted was answers.
Her son, Brice Worley, 13, had suffered what doctors thought was a stroke in September, but after being treated for it, his health continued to worsen.
Those answers finally came for the Batavia family in mid-November, nearly two months after Brice, an eighth-grader at Rotolo Middle School, began experiencing excruciating headaches and other worrisome symptoms.
But despite finally being diagnosed with an inoperable thalamic glioma, a type of tumor that sits at the base of the brain, Wilson said she couldn't be more grateful. Brice begins aggressive chemotherapy and radiation this week.
"We've done more living in the past few days than we did in the past two months," Wilson said. "I'm so thankful I have answers. I didn't pray for perfect answers, just answers. It was freeing to hear [the diagnosis] for me and Brice. We have sad moments and this is heavy and hard, but now it's about living and giving Brice the best life he can have."
The family is hosting a public vigil for Brice at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at River City Church, 3450 Swenson Ave., St. Charles. At 6 p.m., attendees are invited to stay for the Youth Christmas Party to show their support and offer words of encouragement to Brice and his family. The church will also take up a collection for the family to help cover everyday expenses as Brice begins treatment.
"This community is praying for us and lifting us up," she said. "Everyone has been so loving and supportive, and that support is what's keeping us going. We want to extend gratitude and thanks to everyone."
Brice had pitched in a baseball game the night of Sept. 5, but was complaining of a headache after the game. He collapsed the next morning and Wilson found him unconscious between the couch and a coffee table. Wilson and her husband, George, took Brice to Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital. From there, he was airlifted to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, after a scan showed swelling and fluid in his brain.
"Doctors saw blood on the imaging, which is why they thought he had a stroke, but it was the tumor that was bleeding. But the tumor didn't show up on the scan," Wilson explained.
He was treated for the fluid build up and began inpatient rehab at Lurie. After showing signs of improvement, Brice began to decline on Oct. 20, when more tests were run but there were no signs of fluid or blood in his brain.
"We were sent home with medication on Oct. 22 but he still wasn't feeling good," Wilson said. "He didn't look good. He was crying, vomiting and having headaches. We kept saying there was something wrong, but we couldn't keep running back to the emergency room each time."
Over the next few weeks, Brice began losing functioning in his left arm, and then his vision began getting blurry, and eventually he couldn't walk on his own. He finally had an MRI on Nov. 8, which showed the tumor.
"A biopsy showed malignant markers, and doctors told us that it's a fast-growing tumor," Wilson said. "He's had surgeries to relieve the pressure on his brain, and has a catheter to drain the fluid. The doctors told him that he never had a stroke, but was in for a fight."
Wilson said the brain swelling is currently being controlled and has gone down.
Now that Brice is at home, the family continues to focus on planning things to do together, especially over the holidays as he starts treatment.
"This Thanksgiving, this Christmas will be special. We're just all really living. There's a calm and peace about things," she said. "It's not about dying. This puts things in perspective. I'm just so thankful for everything- the outpouring of love and friendship. Brice hasn't complained and doesn't feel sorry for himself. He's my hero."