By Marie Nesmith
Watching her daughter, Brianna, take in the attractions at the Magic Kingdom was an experience that Delia Hill will never forget.
The 6-year-old was one of 13 children who received a complimentary trip for their families to visit Walt Disney World, courtesy of Bert’s Big Adventure. The nonprofit organization was formed in 2002 by Atlanta radio personality Bert Weiss and his wife, Stacey, to provide a fun-filled vacation for children ages 5 to 12 with terminal and chronic medical conditions.
“When we first walked into Disney World a lady said, ‘Have a magical time,’ and we did,” said Hill, a Cartersville resident, whose daughter has been in remission from Wilms’ Tumor for more than a year. “They spoiled her and all of us to death.
“Words can’t explain it. It is priceless, what they did for us. They went above and beyond what we were thinking would happen.”
Hugging Disney characters, frolicking in the ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’ playground and riding Dumbo the Flying Elephant, were among Brianna’s favorite activities on the trip, Feb. 21 to 25.
“She embraced everything,” Hill said. “She was always, ‘Let’s go. Let’s do that. Let’s do that.'”
Her energetic nature was a stark contrast to her behavior two years ago, when a hard mass was detected on her right side Jan. 4, 2006. The following day, a CAT scan revealed the mass probably was a Wilms’ Tumor — the most common type of kidney cancer in children, usually diagnosed in patients younger than 7. On Jan. 11, 2006, Brianna’s right kidney was removed, revealing a 1.5-pound tumor. A port also was inserted, which allowed her chemotherapy medications to be injected directly into the main vein in her chest. With another surgery required to remove an obstruction in her intestines, Brianna stayed at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite for two weeks. After which, she returned to the hospital once a week for nearly five months of chemotherapy treatments.
While Brianna has not had a recurrence of the cancer, she is examined every four months by Dr. Bradley George, her oncologist at Children’s at Scottish Rite’s Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service. X-rays and an ultrasound are conducted on her abdominal area to detect any new developments of the disease.
“There are so many things that we take for granted when it comes to health,” stated Weiss in a press release. “Not only are these children challenged on a daily basis, but so are their families — physically, emotionally and financially.
“This organization and all of its supporters work to provide an opportunity for everyone to set aside the day-to-day concerns and enjoy time together in one of the most magical places on Earth.”