At age 11, Delainey, known as Lainey to everyone, is thriving and working towards healing. In December of 2021, she celebrated the 3 year anniversary of melting the monster - a term her father coined when she began treatment. During a routine eye exam, a tumor was discovered on Lainey’s optic nerve. She completed 4 chemotherapy treatments at Hopkins in Baltimore, followed by 24 proton therapy sessions at Maryland Proton Treatment Center.
The chemotherapy was tough on Lainey’s little body and she wound up in the hospital often.
Those long stays were brutal on the whole family, especially her little sister Brooke who couldn’t be with them. The stays were isolating for the whole family and because of her weakened immune system and low blood counts, it became too risky for her to attend school.
That is when The Sweet Julia Grace Foundation stepped in.
The SJGF iPad Program keeps Raindancers connected, inspired, and in touch, despite the challenges they may face on a daily basis.
An iPad allows children with medical needs to remain connected with family and friends, provides entertainment while they undergo treatments or experience hospital stays, and offers educational assistance while they are homebound and unable to attend school with their peers.
Lainey's new iPad truly helped her do all the above, and she also made history! She was the first elementary age child in her county to use Double, a robot at school that she can actually control remotely.
Double allowed Lainey to join in her classes, move around the hallways, and interact with her classmates who were missing her dearly.
One of the first days she attended remotely, it happened to be Dress Like a Book Character Day at school. When her friend placed her feather boa on Lainey’s robot, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Penguins are Lainey’s mascot. She has collected them in all sizes, all shapes, and all colors. Her love for the animal deepened even more after using her iPad to look in on cameras at zoos around the world to see their penguins.
Lainey’s Aunt Christine, a cancer survivor, who also volunteers as an important part of Team SJGF, described the true impact of SJGF’s iPad program from her perspective.
"I didn't even fully realize the impact of the iPad program until it helped my own family. Lainey can FaceTime me whenever she wants and I can help even though I am not close enough to be there all the time. When her hair started falling out, she asked to talk to me and I was able to do that while seeing her sweet little face. Her having this iPad is not about watching movies or playing games (although that helps too) but it's about maintaining a connection with your loved ones, especially when her counts are low and she may feel lonely. Thank you, Sweet Julia Grace Foundation for finding me and giving me an avenue for giving back to others."
Although she officially completed treatment in April of 2019, the damage from the tumor has left her with a permanent vision disability. But most wouldn’t know that by watching her. She is relearning to search for activities she can participate in and, most recently, starred in her second television and radio commercial for the proton center. She became known as the Zap girl after her one liner about how the therapy zaps tumors.
She has tackled this challenge with grace and determination. She enjoys learning Braille and has grown in confidence.
Now in middle school, she is, in every sense, a normal preteen... but with a little bit more courage and perspective than most.