On May 26, 2009, 14 year old Krisanna celebrated graduation: an MRI showed that the tumor bed remained stable following a 2004 gamma knife procedure on her third brain tumor, so she graduated to annual check-ups at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Merely two weeks later, an MRI revealed that a tumor at the base of her spine was the source of pain she had been experiencing for a month as sixth grade wound down and the promise of summer beckoned. She returned to Memphis for the summer.
For eleven years Krisanna Roberts battled an aggressive brain tumor called an Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor. She was St. Jude’s longest surviving AT/RT patient. The tumor first presented in the brain and returned twice following initial occurrence and treatment. The fourth occurrence was the first time the tumor had presented in the spine.
Krisanna’s spirit and determination soared as she began what she called her “summer vacation at her home away from home” at Target House. Arts and crafts was the name of the game ... and assigning each day a color unveiled the infinite spectrum of yellow for this pink and purple-loving princess. In August, she returned home to Mobile, Alabama with big plans for seventh grade.
On Septermber 1, Krisanna's spine scan showed that radiation had not reduced the tumor. Hoping that long-term effects would reduce the size, Krisanna returned to school. However, by the 3rd week of September, daily headaches, nausea, and emesis limited her activities. By mid-October, she was in constant pain, eating little, and often dehydrated which home hospital visits helped only minimally. We returned to St. Jude October 26 for a brain scan.
Shockingly, the scan revealed that the tumor had returned with a vengeance. It covered her brain, and there were no medical options left. Krisanna, however, didn't give up. She still had a lot of living to do! With her Pollyanna spirit, she made big plans and celebrated every single day -- even the last in her hospital bed. She died in her "home away from home" on November 4, 2009.