McCrabb: Local teen with cancer gets wish, will head to Disney World

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

FAIRFIELD — In early December 2020, Amanda Fiorini’s mind was anticipating Christmas and spending time with her husband and three teenage daughters.

Then, as so often happens, life throws a curveball that baseball’s best hitter would miss.

The thought of Christmas turned to cancer.

Bryttan Cain, then a sixth-grader at Crossroads Middle School, was showing signs of Tourette syndrome, so her mother transported her to Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus for a CT scan. It was Dec. 5, 2020, a Saturday morning. The medical staff on duty was limited.

After the test, the family was told that Bryttan needed to be immediately transported to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and be consulted by a neurosurgeon. She had a brain tumor, was admitted and spent the next 40 days in the hospital when she had brain surgery and chemotherapy treatments.

Bryttan uses a wheelchair due to her neuropathy, according to her mother.

On Thursday afternoon, Bryttan returned to school for the first time in three years for a special assembly. She sat in a circle in the middle of the gym surrounded by her “support staff” of family and friends, many of them wearing “#BryttanStrong” T-shirts.

As her mother talked about the cancer journey in front of eighth graders, pictures of Bryttan from her hospital stay were shown on a video screen. The gymnasium probably never has been as quiet.

Then Bryttan was surprised to learn she was going to Walk Disney World, courtesy of Make A Wish Foundation.

Bryttan, her parents, Amanda and Justin Fiorini, two sisters, Cienna Cain, 17, and Hayden Fiorini, 15, and extended family will be in Florida from April 14-19, which is perfect timing since Bryttan turns 14 on April 17.

After the surprise announcement was made, Hannah Neal, a Fairfield High School senior who was dressed as a Disney princess, placed a shiny crown on Bryttan as tears rolled down her face.

“It was amazing,” Bryttan said after the assembly. “I’ve always wanted to go.”

She hopes to feel well enough to join her classmates, part of the Fairfield High School Class of 2027, next year as freshmen. The gymnasium walls were lined with encouraging words for Bryttan and the students chanted “Bryttan Strong,” “Bryttan Battle” and “Welcome Bryttan.”

It turned into a pep assembly and the competition was cancer.

Fiorini said she was nervous Thursday afternoon driving to the assembly. She hadn’t spoken publicly about her daughter’s diagnosis.

“I had to cut it short on what I was saying,” she said quietly while sitting on the bleachers after the assembly. “It’s definitely not something I enjoy talking about. I did not sign up for this. But she’s making great progress. You almost get numb, Now I can talk about it.”

She now speaks a different language she didn’t understand before her daughter’s diagnosis. She calls herself, and other mothers of cancer patients, “Mom-oncologist.”

She tried to get comfortable on the hard bleachers. As Fiorini looked over at her daughter, her group of family and friends, she was asked what lessons the rest of us can take from her journey.

“You never know what tomorrow holds,” she said. “Remember that. Life can change on a flip of a dime.”

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