A gift money can't buy: Cantril mom says both daughters survived brain tumors

Calleigh, left, and Maddea were diagnosed with brain tumors exactly two years apart/KTVO

It's a six letter word that will take your breath away.

"When someone says cancer, you usually don't have a very good outlook," said Cantril mom, Cassandra Burford.

Her daughter, Calleigh Burford, was 6 years old when they learned she had a brain tumor.

Doctors called it craniopharyngioma, which has the potential to be cancerous.

"When (the doctor) said it, it was just like somebody threw a basketball at your chest when you weren't looking, it was just hard to breathe, and the first thing I thought of was, 'Oh, she's going to die,’" Burford said.

Surgeons removed the growth from Calleigh's brain. Further testing showed Calleigh had a Rathke's Cleft Cyst, which is a noncancerous growth found in the pituitary gland.

"We were really relieved because even though she was extremely brave through everything, she was scared that she was going to be a baldy,” Burford said. “Because that's all we had seen…a lot of kids…not very many of them had hair."

Two years later, though, Calleigh's sister, Maddea, 13, was diagnosed with a similar tumor.

“I said, ‘What? How is that possible,’” Burford said. “Because they told us that Calleigh was less than one in a million people to be found with a Rathke’s Cleft Cyst.”

Doctors weren’t exactly sure if the sisters’ conditions were the same. The family was told to wait and see.

"That just…it was disappointing because I didn’t like the thought of my child having a tumor where it shouldn’t be,” Burford said.

A second MRI in September of 2017 showed that the mass had grown. So the family went for a third scan in November. Maddea’s nurse called with the results a few hours later.

“The nurse said ... the pituitary adenoma, which is usually what they call it when they don’t know what it is, has disappeared,” Burford said.

Burford said she couldn't believe it. She wanted to keep the results a secret until Christmas.

"I put it in a box and then when everybody was gathered around after we got done eating, I said, ‘Maddea… I have something I want to give you,’" Burford said.

A gift money can't buy.

“And that’s what it was,” Burford said. “It was the results from her findings.”

Maddea is due for another checkup this summer. Calleigh, who just celebrated her 9th birthday this spring, is still in good health.

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