2018 Honored Angel: Lainee
In a world with very few absolutes, the word “special” is universally reserved for parents who have lost their beloved sons or daughters to pediatric cancer. Through no fault of their own, they experienced a deeply personal loss that most of us cannot imagine. Yet, experience shows that many bravely and unselfishly continue to cheer the rest of us on in the fight against pediatric cancer.
This is one of those stories. It is the story of Lainee and Audriana of Brainerd. It is a special story. Here, in her own words, Audriana honors her beautiful daughter Lainee -- our Honored Angel -- by recounting their last days together and the wonderful love they shared.
“A Mother’s Love for her Beautiful Daughter”
“On Sunday, Sept. 19, 2015, my family and I were enjoying a beautiful autumn day outdoors. We were on a paved trail, surrounded by nature. The adults were walking and the kids were all riding along on their bikes. An offer on my dream home was accepted that day. After years of hard work, we would finally have our family home.
Fast-forward three days. What started as growing pains abruptly turned into symptoms very similar to Lyme Disease. Lainee was fatigued and achy, but still in good spirits. Little did I know that, at that time, my daughter’s body was completely filled with a pediatric cancer I could hardly pronounce.
We soon learned that Lainee had a 15cm by 4cm tumor in her lung that had not only collapsed it completely, but had also pushed her heart to the right side of her body. She had tumors on her spine, her femur, her hip, and her kidney.
We spent 109 days in the hospital. She had three rounds of chemo, countless other procedures, several surgeries, a complete physical therapy rehab before we were finally able to go home and reunite as a family.
Every time we started a new treatment regimen, she would respond for a while. We would have so much hope, and then shortly thereafter, her tumor would progress. We Did Everything. She Did Everything.
When we finally found out that her time was limited, we reached out to our community to help us honor the remaining life Lainee had. We found out she was terminal in July 2017. We were able to obtain a lake house for the entire summer. Wonderful people were willing to let my child die in their incredible home that was big enough to house the people that Lainee loved the most.
We had a princess party. One day she caught - I am not exaggerating - 28 fish with her father, Gary. During breakfast one day, I asked her what she wanted to do that day. She told me she wanted to learn how to fly a plane. Again, I reached out to my community and, within a couple hours, we were in a single-engine plane with an eager pilot.
My daughter died in the arms of a woman who owns the daycare that she had gone to for her entire life. She was reading her the book “Green Eggs and Ham,” the same book that she read to her son 30 years earlier while he battled stage 4 Neuroblastoma. Lainee died so peacefully that she did not even know that she had passed away.
In every sense, Lainee was the light of my life. She was my genetic twin. She was my greatest love. She was my best friend. She is my hero.
It has been 309 days, 1 hour, 50 minutes and 32 seconds since I had to let go of my child. I promise you that I will never experience a greater pain in my life. I will dedicate the rest of my life to honoring her, and learning from my greatest and most effective teacher, my daughter. She taught us how life is to be lived. How people are to be treated. How “courage is when you’re a little scared but very brave.” And, how "In this family, we never give up!"
Lainee deserved to live. More than anyone I have ever met. She was not gifted with the life I so desperately hoped she would have.
Forever in her corner,
Lainee’s Heartbroken Mother, Audriana
Thank you Audriana for so powerfully reminding us why we are all here today.