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Bothell girl will return home day after Christmas, funds still needed | Update
Most kids dream of getting a Barbie doll, video game or bike for Christmas. Tahlia Boyd's wish was to spend Christmas at home with her family.
The 7-year-old little girl's family is rushing to prepare for her return from the hospital on Dec. 26 when the family will get to celebrate Christmas one day late - but together. Tahlia is currently being treated for a brain tumor at Seattle Children's Hospital.
But renovating their home and buying a van for her wheelchair is not cheap.
"It has definitely been a strain on the family," said Tahlia's father Eric Boyd. "Her three siblings definitely miss her a lot. We are doing okay. We have our good days and our bad days."
Friends and fellow church members held a fund raiser for the family at the Maple Park Church in Lynnwood on Dec. 17 to help raise money to get Tahlia home for Christmas. Eric said that the event raised 45 percent of the immediate fund the family needs but they are still short of what will ultimately be needed.
The event included a bake sale, rummage sale, craft table, cake walk and a refreshments area, and lots of games, such as a bean bag toss and fishing hole. Organizers also took direct donations for the family. All proceeds for the event went to the Boyd family.
"They also need help finishing a linoleum flooring on the first floor of the house for the wheelchair, adding a necessary closet for her medical equipment and other uninsured expenses," said Tanya Button, who is friends with Tahlia's mother Rachelle Boyd. "A 'wish list' would include a second hand wheelchair-accessible van, but these are very hard to find."
The cost could reach as high as $80,000. Eric said the family has had a lot of support from people in their church community. The family attends Refuge Church in Lynnwood and church leaders have announced that all money donated to the Deacon's Fund during December will go to the Boyd family for Tahlia's care. Refuge Church is located at 2609 Larch Way in Lynnwood.
The Boyds began noticing something was wrong with their daughter in early spring.
"In March she began to have issues walking," said Eric. "She would fall down and we just chalked it up to growing pains."
But the issues got more serious so the Boyds took Tahlia to a chiropractor, who recommended an MRI.
Doctors diagnosed Tahlia with pilocytic astrocytoma, a non-cancerous tumor on her brain stem.
"They said it was best to treat it and she had a round of radiation," said Eric.
Tahlia began having difficulty breathing and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. She eventually had to have a tracheostomy breathing tube put in to help her breathe. She also developed infections.
But the radiation began to work and the infections cleared up. The tumor is expected to recede but she has lost all mobility for now.
"She has to wait out the swelling and the radiation will be finalized in the next two months," said Eric.
There is no guarantee but there is hope for Tahlia. She could return to normal in as soon as a year if everything goes well.
"Sometimes we have to take a step back and realize just how well she is doing," said Eric. "She has even confounded the doctors with how well she has done."
But the tumor will never fully go away.
"It is kind of like ivy attached to a tree," said Eric. "You can pull it off but the root is still there."
But once the therapy is complete the tumor should not cause any more damage. She will be confined to a wheelchair for a year and have to have round-the-clock care.
"She is now at Children’s Hospital in Seattle, on a ventilator full time, and she must have assistance to eat and move," said Button.
Eric and Rachelle along with Rachelle's parents, who live with them and are helping out, have to take classes to be able to care for Tahlia with her tracheotomy.
"We have to finish the training so she can be discharged and come home," said Eric.
The past eight months have been difficult for the entire family, including Tahlia's brothers Silas, 2, Malachi, 5, and sister Hailey, 10.
"Her and Hailey are pretty much best friends," said Eric. "It has been the roughest on the two girls."
The Boyds have also had help from Eric's parents, who live in Portland, as they took the kids for a month earlier this year. All four kids are homeschooled.
The family is also continuing to grow as Rachelle is expected to give birth in early April.
"Rachelle told me yesterday that they are going to have to 'skip' Christmas this year, because of the stress of providing 24 hour a day bedside support for Tahlia at Children’s, caring for her other three children at home and preparing for the birth of their fifth child," said Button.
The best gift for all of them is that Tahlia will come home the day after Christmas.
Eric Boyd said the family is trying to figure out a way for all of them to be at the hospital on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Tahlia's eighth birthday is Jan. 25.
Those who want to donate to help the family can go to the Refuge Church website and specify the donation to go to the Deacon's Fund.