RIESEL, Texas (KWTX) When you hear May is Brain Tumor Awareness month, there's a local little girl who comes to mind: Layla Evetts.
Layla Evetts, 6, has outlived her prognosis for terminal pediatric brain cancer. (Photo by Bill Gowdy)
Evetts, 6, of Riesel and Burleson, was diagnosed with “diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma” (DIPG), an aggressive form of pediatric brain cancer, last February.
Doctors gave her six to nine months to live, however, 15 months later, Evetts continues to beat the odds in her battle against cancer.
"I'm kicking its butt," she told KWTX Monday.
Her father Corey says it's been the busiest years of their lives.
"Lots of appointments, lots of MRIs, lots of chemo, re-radiation, lots of trips to Houston," he said.
Their last trip to Houston, however, wasn't the best: after showing signs of stability in previous MRIs, in March they learned Layla's tumor had started to grow again.
"It was a blow you know, but we try not to get worked up too fast because there's other avenues to go," her dad said. "You kind of get down for just a minute but then you realize, ya know, 'hey, we've come a long way and we know this isn't over with,' and we're going to keep on."
And Layla keeps on hitting major life benchmarks like turning six and graduating Kindergarten.
"Hitting milestones that we were told that she wouldn't makes it that much more special, and just shows us how tough our girl really is," her dad said.
Earlier this month Layla received the Christian Character Award at her school after choosing to be baptized in April.
"(Because) Jesus is helping me through all of this," she said.
Corey Evetts says faith has been what's kept them strong throughout this difficult journey.
"She went through a year and thrived, absolutely thrived, and done it really graciously," he said. "I honestly think she's handled it a lot better than her mother and I."
Layla will be handling something new next week: pending the results of an MRI on Friday, on Tuesday she'll start another clinical trial - a weekly pill with no chemo, less side-effects, fewer hospital visits, and it's not nearly as invasive as previous trials she was enrolled in.
"It's a new out-patient clinical trial," her dad said. "Sounds very promising."
She'll be on it for a year, and if it works, it could be something she's on for the rest of her life.
"We know that God's not done, we know this isn't over with," her dad said.
Likewise, Layla continues to look forward.
"I'm excited about summer," she said.
She wants to go swimming, go to the beach, learn how to barrel race and play the violin.
Layla's also excited about starting first-grade in the fall.
"(Because) We'll get to learn more stuff," she said.
Her family continues to learn right along with her.
Her dad has advice for other families in similar situations.
"Statistics are just that," he said. "Stay upbeat, and always have hope."