VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — January 17.
That was the day Leaeanna and Allen Lyons' smart, unfailingly positive 10-year-old son Slade found out the headaches he had been experiencing weren't normal, but instead were caused by a tumor in his brain.
Five days later, he would have a craniotomy with a partial resection of his tumor and soon, he will begin six weeks of radiation therapy.
Despite the diagnosis and the trials of the past month and a half, Slade's positive attitude has never changed.
"Amazing, extraordinary. Everybody loves me and they all care for me," Slade said of the support he has received. "It has been crazy, really crazy. I was worried, but I knew that I would be fine because of all these prayers."
Before his surgery on Jan. 22, Slade received a raucous send off from Bovina Elementary where he is in the fourth grade.
The support continued Saturday when more than 600 people came out to Southern Sisters and purchased barbecue plates to support him and his family.
"We were on the telephone one night and we were like, 'guys, I don't think anyone's helped them. Do you all think we could throw a benefit together?' The next day tickets and flyers were printed," Brooke Lott, who helped organize the event, said.
"It has been very emotional to see the community come together to help out when the family needs it. We have had several local businesses offer to help. We have had schools. Within a couple of days, the community just responded instantly to what we were asking them to do," Lott said.
Restaurants and stores throughout the town donated food and the outpouring of support was described as "overwhelming" by Allen and Leeanna.
"Anybody that has something negative to say about Vicksburg needs to be somewhere like this today to see how good people come together," Allen said.
"You are seeing God's hand at work. We've got a great little boy, but this is God's work. If anybody doubts that, they need to come be involved. It is so overwhelming. There's just no words for it."
Slade's tumor is called a Craniopharyngioma and sits behind his optic nerve and on his pituitary gland so they were unable to remove all of it.
Leeanna said the tumor is benign, but "but malignant or benign you don't need anything growing in your brain taking up space."
In an effort to reduce the long-term impact, Slade will undergo proton radiation therapy at St. Jude's to hopefully eradicate the tumor and keep it from growing back.
Slade has been back at school for about three weeks following his surgery and Friday he had the chance to introduce the keynote speaker at the Vicksburg Warren School District's Leader in Me symposium.
"It's been overwhelming with the community — friends, family and people we don't even know — coming together, praying for us," Leeanna said.
"I have never seen so many people come together and do something so amazing for us. If I didn't have that, I don't know where I would be right now."
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