Mira's Story

Mira's Movement was launched in honor and memory of Mira Brouwer, who died April 26, 2008, at the age of 4, from unforeseen complications of treatment to prevent the return of brain cancer.

In her 4 short years, Mira lived as much as one possibly could. With her passing the world lost an amazing, resilient, and courageous child who touched many lives in profound ways. Her family will forever miss her incredible spirit, presence, and compassion.

We will remember Mira for her beautiful blue-green eyes, her wild wavy hair, and her uneven, but perfect little smile. We will remember her as a sweet, silly, and spunky girl who loved going to Pre-K, where she enjoyed her teachers and classmates. She also loved to play with her brother everyday, go to playgrounds with her family, and participate in everyday life, like shopping at the grocery store (Wegmans!). One of the things she was most proud of was learning to ride a tricycle. Some of her favorite things were looking at the moon, being pushed on the swings, going for walks at parks, doing art work, listening to music and dancing, cuddling on the couch while reading stories, and giving and getting massages. Her spirit and humor were contagious. She loved to laugh and entertain.

Over the last 2 years of her life, Mira had bravely battled back from a form of brain cancer called ependymoma.

She was diagnosed on January 20, 2006, one week before her 2nd birthday. Mira fought an incredible fight—enduring brain and other surgeries, high-dose chemotherapy, and two forms of radiation before being declared cancer-free in April 2007.

In October 2006, Mira walked again, after having slowly regained coordination and strength since her first surgery in January. As many children with brain stem tumors do, Mira had a trach and a feeding (G/J) tube from the first week after her initial surgery. In April 2007, Mira had her trach out- a wonderful day for her and all of us. For 9 months, Mira became stronger and stronger. She had physical therapy and swallowing therapy multiple times per week.

In September 2007, she began pre-K, as many 3 year olds do. A huge achievement for a little girl who had gone through so much! Sadly, on January 28, 2008, Mira was diagnosed with recurrent cancer. She successfully had the entire tumor removed in February at NYU.

It was hard for her to know that her cancer had returned, but each day she kept busy with artwork and other activities, and soon she was powering back to her old self, walking again in late March 2008. Even though her surgeon had been able to remove all of the tumor, Mira needed to re-enter treatment to prevent the cancerous cells left behind from growing into a new tumor. Radiation wasn't a good option (this would be the normal course of treatment in these circumstances), as she had already had high-dose radiation and the tumor bed was right next to the brain stem, and would've caused certain damage.

So, from the few available options, the one that seemed most promising was an anti-angiogenic treatment developed by the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Mira began that treatment on March 31. She was fatigued, but otherwise seemed to be doing well. We planned a family vacation to Florida for mid-April—a chance to take a break from all we had been through (again) and forge a new outlook on the next 2 years of life in treatment.

A few days into that trip, Mira began to develop pneumonia. Her oncologist helped us to manage it long distance with antibiotics and steroids, but her symptoms continued to worsen. On April 19, she had a fever and we took her to St. Joseph 's Hospital for Children in Tampa. They drew blood and told us that Mira was neutropenic. (Neutropenia is having little to no white blood cells, which you need to fight infection.) Mira held her own for the next two days, then needed to be put on a ventilator on Monday the 21st .

She fought so hard—she was an incredibly strong girl in body and spirit—but we lost her on April 26, 2008. We never thought we'd lose her—even with all that she had been through. She had won so many battles—overcome so many odds. But her body could hold on no longer. Her Mom, Dad, and brother Jackson, and so many others, miss her so much. And out of all the sadness and anger that we have about our girl living half her life with cancer and its complications, we have created Mira's Movement. Mira would want us to fight for other kids- so that someday they will live better lives after a cancer diagnosis, and so that fewer families would have to face the pain of losing their beloved child. We hope you will join us.