Family of brave 3-year-old battling brain cancer needs community's help

One Metro Detroit family is fighting a medical battle with its young daughter facing brain cancer.

"One day she just woke up here and just started puking," said James Zienty.

Lily was just 2 years old at the time, and that’s not unusual. But after a few days, concern for her grew.

"She was just getting weaker and weaker. Within weeks she started losing weight, her balance was thrown off," James said.

Eventually, doctors at Children’s Hospital of Michigan found a brain tumor and diagnosed Lily with - ATRT - a very rare brain cancer, amounting to just 10% of all brain cancers in children.

"You could tell in her eyes that something was going on," said her mother Amanda Larson.

Lily had surgery to remove the brain tumor, had a port put in her chest, chemotherapy, and that was just in the last year.  

Her parents, Amanda and James, from Detroit, have been engaged for 10 years.  James took a leave of absence from his job just to be with Lily.

"I've been thinking about selling my house and just getting an apartment and paying for years worth of rent just to get by," James said.

Beginning this Monday, Lily will receive three months of intense in-patient chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant.

"I have to stay back here and work, so we still have an income, plus the insurance only covers one of us to eat at the hospital," Amanda said.

And because of a high risk of infection, Amanda will not be able to see Lily.

FOX 2: "She’s totally quarantined?"


FOX 2: "You can’t see your daughter? Amanda, how are you handling this?"

"I’ve never been away from her," Amanda said, fighting back tears.

Doctors say only about 40% of children, Lily’s age, survive the illness.

"We needed help," she said.

David Mead and his wife Tracy are hosting a Jan. 20 fundraiser for Lily. There will be bands and food, for just a $20 donation at the St. Clair Shores VFW Banquet Hall, 28404 Jefferson Ave. The doors open at 2 p.m.

"I fight back tears every time I think of this," said David. "I put myself in their shoes and try to (imagine) how this feels. So it makes me push a little harder for this benefit."

But even if the new treatment is successful, Lily is looking at a lifetime of monitoring.

FOX 2: "You believe she’s going to pull through this?"

"She’s going to," Amanda said. "There’s no doubt about it. She has to."

If you would like to donate to the family's GoFundMe, GO HERE.