Any parent can tell you that there’s nothing quite like seeing their child smile. It takes a while for babies to break into their first genuine grin, though. In some cases, it can be three months before they react to familiar faces and noises with a smile.
And a child’s smile is precious, no matter if it’s comes with missing teeth or braces. But Megan Evans’ parents saw something so strange in her happy face that they took her to the hospital, where she was rushed into surgery.
Before that day, Evans was an outgoing seven-year-old daughter to parents Jason, 34, and Charlene, 27. She loved the dramatic arts, cheerleading and gymnastics. Evans had a spunky side, too. Indeed, her mom described her as a “wee diva” in a 2015 Facebook post.
But all of that changed at a 2017 children’s Halloween party, when Jason and Charlene realized that something could be wrong with their daughter. During the festivities, her cheerful grin had gone crooked. “It happened very suddenly,” her dad told the Daily Record in March 2018.
“I noticed that her smile was a bit different,” Jason continued. “There was something just not quite right.” He and Evans’ mom just couldn’t ignore their parental intuition. “Charlene and I decided to take her to the hospital,” he explained.
And little did they know that their quick decision-making would save their daughter’s life. At the hospital, doctors examined the seven-year-old’s shifting smile, and their diagnosis came as a huge shock to the family.
It turned out that her slumping smile was the product of a brain tumor “the size of a tangerine,” her dad recalled. The seven-year-old would need to undergo a 12 hours of surgery to attempt to remove the growth.
Needless to say, her parents “feared the worst,” Jason said. They waited for half a day as surgeons worked to remove the benign tumor from their daughter’s brain. It was undoubtedly a stark contrast to the day before, when the family had celebrated Halloween together.
Evans survived the unexpected operation, but she wasn’t entirely out of the woods. Scarily, she emerged from the procedure unable to talk. “Finally, she did begin to speak, but it was like baby talk,” Jason recalled.
Her speech eventually returned to normal, but another problem arose that wouldn’t rectify itself so easily. Evans had only 3 percent of her vision left intact after the surgery. As a result, she was given a walking stick to guide her steps.
Her dad later admitted that this development possibly affected him and Evans’ mom more than their daughter. “Megan has really bravely adapted to this,” he said. “In fact, she has adapted better than her parents have.”
Fortunately, though, Evans and her parents weren’t out of options. She might be able to see again if she had restorative surgery, but the family faced some big hurdles before that could happen. For starters, the procedure wasn’t available in their home country of Scotland.
And while it was available in Berlin, German, the procedure was out of the family’s reach financially, too. So, in order to give Evans a chance of regaining her sight, they created a fundraising page on Facebook, where they hoped to rack up the $7,000 that they needed.
The Facebook page, written from Evans’ perspective, explained the work of the doctor whom she wished to see in Berlin. His name was Dr. Anton Federov, and he’d founded the Center for Vision Restoration in the German capital.
The Facebook page read, “Dr. Federov and his unique team have a course of therapeutical electrical stimulation. This treatment has worked on several people from all ages to restore their vision from 5 percent to 100 percent.”
On top of that, Jason told the Daily Record that his daughter should respond well to treatment due to the location of her tumor. “Because of the part of the brain affected, there is a good chance for the Berlin clinic being able to restore vision,” he said. “And that is what we are hoping for.”
All that the family needed were funds – and Facebook users began to send them in right away. Evans was quick to show her appreciation, writing, “It could help change my life for the better. Thank you so much for any support or donations.”
In just 56 days, the Facebook page raised £4,283 of the £5,000 that the family needed to accrue before they could fly their little girl to Germany. While she waited, Evans got used to life with her clouded vision. She began learning Braille and to walk with a cane.
In the face of these changes and uncertainties, her parents could only laud Evans’s resilience. “She has had to take in an awful lot and adapt,” her dad told the Daily Record. “We are so proud of her because of the way she has reacted.”
But the youngster seemed to hope most of all that her story would shed light on the ailment that plagued her and caused her smile to droop on that fateful day. She wrote on her Facebook fundraising page, “I’d also like to help raise awareness and support brain tumor awareness week, October 21, 2018, to October 28, 2018.”