DORSET, Ohio - Jillian Butte has spent almost half her life battling a cancer that affects the brain and spine.
“Jill was our flower girl and Bailey’s older brother was our ring bearer," said family friend Rachel Blevins. "So, they got to go through rehearsal dinner together and they got to spend a lot of time together getting to know each other”
Blevins is talking about 5-year-old Bailey Dickson and her friend 8-year-old Jillian Butte. But for the past three years, Jillian’s life has been made difficult because of ependymoma .
“She was diagnosed in 2011 with a massive brain tumor," said Jessie Butte, Jillian's Mom. "It was almost half the size of her brain.”
Doctor's had feared removing the tumor might mean that Jillian would never walk or talk again. But Jillian’s tumor was removed successfully and she began the path of recovery.
In 2013, however, tests revealed two more tumors in her brain and one on her spine. And last November, doctors removed them all.
"She's had six weeks of radiation," said Butte. "She did very well, very little side effects other than weight loss.
Blevins, who has been involved in several fundraising campaigns for Jillian and other cancer patients, set up a website through GoFundMe to help the Buttes with their medical bills. The donations received there will go to Jillian’s family and the American Cancer Society . So far, they've raised $635, more than halfway to their goal of $1200.
“It is absolutely amazing that people have taken such an interest in this," said Blevins.
The radiation treatments had caused Jillian to lose weight, but also most of her hair. Bailey found out her friend would sometimes wear a wig in public. Even though the 5-year-old donated $5 to Jillian's website, she wanted to give her friend something more personal than just money.
“She said she’s going to cut her hair and donate money for me," said Jillian.
“She said, ‘Can I give my hair to Jill?’" said Bailey's mom Lisa Dickson. "I said we can send it in and they can make a wig for a girl like Jill. So she’s really excited about that.”
Bailey’s locks will be donated to the Wigs for Kids program. A gift of hair, given from the heart.
“She totally thought of it on her own and that’s an amazing thing," said Mrs. Butte
Asking to donate her hair for others dealing with cancer was a special moment for Bailey's Mom.
“I’m just the proudest Mom ever with this.”
For more information about Bailey and Jillian and the fundraising campaign, click on the link below: