Family plans bucket list for 9-year-old with terminal brain tumor

PORTSMOUTH, NH — The Portsmouth community is making sure a little girl with an aggressive brain tumor gets to live her life to the fullest.

It all began a few weeks ago when 9-year-old Ciara Brill began to have headaches, but nothing Motrin didn't fix. Then on Christmas, her family noticed she had a lazy eye. It was worse the next day.

"That was definitely alarming, we talked about it and Stacy (her mother) took her to the emergency room," said dad Harold Brill.

Following a cat scan and MRIs, Ciara was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor called a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.

"The doctor was very blunt about it. Came out and said terminal upon diagnosis," said Harold.

DIPG tumors are found in the brain stem and almost exclusively are found in children. The tumors are aggressive, difficult to treat, and affect the area of the brain that control breathing, blood pressure and heart rate. The tumors rare - only about 300 children are diagnosed with them annually, according to Boston Children's Hospital.

Somehow, Harold had to find a way to explain what was to come to his baby girl.

"Dad, it's okay," Ciara said through tears.

To ease the pain, the Brills put together a bucket list for Ciara and a family friend started a GoFundMe to "create as much joy as possible for Ciara."

"I want to show her the world, as much as we can," said Harold.

They have each other and with plans to see the world, they have hope.

"Just have to for these guys, want to see her smile," said Harold.

The Brills are seeking a second opinion and hope to begin radiation six days a week for about a month to at least temporarily shrink the tumor.

The money from the GoFundMe will also help the family, as the parents will be taking time off from work and there are rising medical bills.