Lifestyle & Human Interest

Mother Rings Cancer-Free Bell in Video To Celebrate Infant Daughter Beating Brain Cancer


A baby who was born with a life-threatening brain tumor marked the end of her cancer treatment by ringing the bell at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, last week.

Parents Leann and Patrick Borden learned their daughter, Lillian Grace Borden, had brain cancer just days after her birth in September.

“As a parent, there is no way to prepare for those words,” Leann Borden explained in a GoFundMe campaign started on Lily’s behalf.

“One minute you’re living your dream, the next minute, a doctor is telling you your beautiful angel you’ve waited your whole life for will likely die,” she wrote.

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The Borden family thought their baby girl was born perfectly healthy until a nurse noticed that Lily “wasn’t moving her limbs quite right.”

Lily’s first MRI revealed “an ominous spot on her brain stem,” which thrust the family into a whirlwind of events to try and save their daughter’s life.

The baby was diagnosed with an aggressive stage 3-4 malignant glioma that was inoperable because of its location in her brain stem.

The tumor developed rapidly, moving from Lily’s brain stem down her spinal cord and below her shoulders in a matter of days, according to the GoFundMe campaign.

Doctors used a newly approved, targeted chemotherapy on Lily’s tumor in a desperate attempt to save the baby’s life.

Lily’s family and medical team were amazed when an MRI, taken just three weeks after the specialized chemotherapy began, revealed that Lily’s tumor had disappeared.

“On January 25, 2020, the day we had been praying for finally came after nearly five months — Lily rang the bell signifying the successful end of treatment,” the GoFundMe campaign read.

Standing beside the bronze bell in the hospital wing, Patrick Borden held his baby girl in his arms while Leann thanked Lily’s medical team for all they had done to save their baby’s life.

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Borden explained that without the financial help they received from the GoFundMe campaign and organizations such as the Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation, her family “would have been lost.”

“You guys are all incredible. I’ve never met such amazing people in my whole life,” she said.

Wiping tears from her eyes, Leann took her baby’s hand into her own and helped Lily ring the bell on the wall, signifying that the child was officially cancer-free.

Throughout Lily’s cancer journey, Leann Borden said she struggled to make sense of it all. She questioned God and why he would allow her baby to be born with a brain tumor.

In the end, Borden began to understand that the struggle strengthened her faith and shaped her in ways she otherwise would not have experienced.

“Everyone in the hospital is in shock,” Borden wrote after learning Lily’s tumor had disappeared.

“They say it’s magic. I say it’s faith.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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