Janice Newton’s dimpled smile hides an unimaginable reality.
Ten years ago, I stood in her family’s living room just days after her mother had passed away due to a heart condition. I was overwhelmed by the warmth and love that Janice, her seven siblings and her stepfather showed me.
Despite his pain, their stepfather unselfishly squeezed me in his arms as if he had known me for years. Less than three weeks later, I was astonished to learn that he had suffered from a heart attack and passed away, as well.
Through the years I have remained friends with the family and watched as it expanded. Janice married Merlin in 2010 and began her family with him in 2011 when Delaney arrived. The following year, they welcomed Merlin Jr.
In August 2013 their golden haired toddler, Delaney, became unexplainably ill. She was vomiting consistently for over two weeks.
After running a series of tests, doctors found a brain tumor. Delaney underwent a twelve-hour-long operation to remove the tumor.
The surgery was successful, in that the surgeon was able to remove the tumor in its entirety.
On Sept. 18,Merlin and Janice were presented with the devastating pathology report that their two and a half year old had Medulloblastoma.
According to the American Brain Tumor Association, Medulloblastoma is a “fast-growing tumor.” It is always located in the cerebellum, or lower rear portion of the brain, and rarely spreads outside of the brain stem or spinal cord.
This form of cancer is found primarily in children, and accounts for 18 percent of all cases of pediatric (child) brain tumors.
Shortly after she was admitted to the hospital, a Facebook page was created to share her story.
The Team Delaney Homepage has generated an astounding number of supporters and donations; the page has well over 5,000 likes and continues to gain momentum.
The community has also rallied behind the Newton family with fundraisers and donations, as well as a growing popularity in Team Delaney attire with the Shakespeare quote, “And though she be but little, she is fierce” scrolled in neon pink.”It’s not just the fundraisers, it’s not the donations, it’s that you’ve got a community behind you,” Merlin told the San Jose Mercury News.
One individual who attended a recent fundraiser at Livermore’s wine bar, Swirl on the square, was long-time family friend of the Scott/Newton family, Sonja Vigilante.
“It was amazing to see the support of the community, and everyone together to help this family in need,” Vigilante said.
Janice’s younger sister, Rachael Scott, also expressed her gratitude to the community.
“I know how much I immensely love her, and to have people that have never even met her want to help and love her and be supportive is extremely touching. There are no words. It brings me to tears!” Scott said.
That support includes more than generous donations and local businesses rallying around a young girl. But also, the inspirational support of the community. Like the West Coast Fury, a local girls nine and 10-year old soccer team, trading in their lime green jerseys for a black and pink, Team Delaney one.
On Oct. 11 Delaney was granted release from the hospital, to continue her recovery from home.
Four days later Janice announced that she is pregnant with their third child. She was seven weeks along when Delaney was diagnosed.
“I would definitely say she gets her strength from her childhood and life experiences. When my parents died she was most of our rock, she was completely selfless and did what she had to do to keep our family together,” Scott said.
While the tumor has been removed and Delaney is now back in the comfort of her own home, the struggles will continue through her two to three years of chemotherapy.
As of Oct. 6, Delaney is well into her second round of chemo treatment. These treatments attack the cancer cells, but cannot decipher good from bad.
“It’s basically poison that kills all growing cells in your body, good and bad,” Scott said.
Delaney now finds herself with a white blood cell count of 0. What this means is that Delaney’s body currently lacks any semblance of an immune system.
To say that Janice and Merlin have their hands full would be more than an understatement. I am in awe of the courage and strength that Janice, Merlin and their families have displayed in the recent months.
In the future, Delaney’s battle with cancer will hopefully be just memories hidden behind her dimpled smile.