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Posted: June 1, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Life after two brain tumors

Teen counts on faith after removal of second brain tumor

Photo by A.J. Archer/

Sugar, spice and everything nice - that's what little girls are made of.

Homeschooled-Covington resident Kylie Harris, however, is made of so much more.

She had to grow up between surgeries, rehabilitation and treatments. The 15-year-old learned to live her life by navigating around the obstacles she faced since she was diagnosed with a brain tumor as a toddler.

"Kylie has a huge prayer network and support system," said her mother, Rachel Harris. "She has beaten the odds over and over and continues to amaze us every day. She is one determined kid."

Kylie's battle began with a brain tumor 2 1/2 inches in diameter - along with the health problems it caused - that developed when she was three.

"Due to the size and location of the tumor, two surgeries were scheduled three weeks apart that involved different angles of approach to remove the tumor," said her mother.

Kylie's first surgery seemed successful and she transitioned to intensive care. That night, however, she crashed and had what was likely a stroke.
Kylie had to stay in the hospital until her second surgery. With the success of the second surgery, the tumor was gone.

Following the tumor removal, Kylie had to go through rehabilitation. This process included teaching her how to swallow, speak and acknowledge the right side of her body - of which she was unaware.

"Like any road, there were peaks and valleys," said Harris. "Sometimes she progressed quickly, at times she hit plateaus and sometimes we had to accept some things just how they are going to be."Kylie had to begin medication for her endocrine system, which no longer functions properly, and endure blood work, MRIs and CT scans.

The brain tumor recurred when she was five and required another surgery. This time, the outcome was better and Kylie began to attend school part-time.

Throughout the healing process, Kylie always seemed to find the silver lining around the dark cloud that was her ailment.

"I don't know anything different," Kylie said on being a teenager who once had a brain tumor.

Kylie has big dreams.

"I want to be a baker when I get out of school," she said.
Kylie began baking after her surgeries as part of her physical therapy to regain use of the right side of her body. She bakes the cookies but opts to share them instead of eating them herself.

Kylie plays field hockey for the Special Olympics. She had her first match last week and scored the first goal for her team, which went on to win 12-10.

Before turning 15, the age at which athletes are eligible for field hockey, Kylie played tennis and bowled for Special Olympics. She said she likes field hockey the best.

Kylie's mother is thankful for the all of the support that Kylie has received and is proud of her daughter for how far she has come.

Despite her struggle, Kylie continues to persevere and live life to the fullest. She is intent on being able to do what any other person her age can do.

"There are things Kylie will not be able to do in the same way her peers do them," Harris said. "When there is something that she wants to do, we find a way - a different way, but she will get to do it."

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