In 2010, shortly before turning six, Mia began to get severe headaches that would cause her to be sick and miss several days of school. Since they run in her family, it was assumed that migraines were the problem. After several visits to her pediatrician and no luck finding any other diagnosis, she was referred to a neurologist. Because of the family history of migraines, the neurologist wanted to try a preventative medication for six weeks before doing any further testing. After six weeks passed and no relief was found, an MRI was finally performed in July of 2010. It revealed a golf ball-sized tumor at the base of Mia’s skull and spine. The tumor was causing a build-up of cerebral fluid in the brain, which in turn then made her feel sick. The Thinneses were referred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The good news was that the tumor, now identified as a cancerous brain tumor known as medulloblastoma, had not metastasized to the spine and the neurosurgeon was quite confident in his ability to remove the entire tumor. After surgery, Mia was not able to walk on her own for about a week due to where the surgeon had to cut at the base of her neck. The next six weeks were then spent in Rochester for daily radiation and weekly chemo treatments. One of the hardest parts of this is that Mia and her parents, Troy and Julie, were separated from Mia’s twin, Grace, and their older sister, Hannah.
Mia missed the entire first month of first grade; however, her teacher set up Skype meetings with her class several times and the class sent a lot of care packages to her too. Once the family was home from Mayo, Mia had 55 weeks of chemo treatments that would keep her hospitalized for three day, every four to six weeks. Julie said, “To be honest, I think Mia missed more days of first grade than she went.” Mia’s parents are grateful that her school was incredibly supportive and was willing to work with the family on their schedule. Her teacher, Mrs. Woodbury, even came to the house to help with homework and take tests.
Before finding the tumor, Mia’s favorite thing to do was to dance. She missed a couple of years during her treatments, but she was able to go back for a few years once done with treatment. She found that as the moves got harder, it became particularly harder for Mia to do them since she was left with balance and coordination issues.
In 2013 Mia was diagnosed with juvenile cataracts in both eyes and underwent surgery to remove them. In 2014, during a routine scan, a lump was found on her thyroid that turned out to be a cancerous tumor caused by the radiation that Mia had received on the brain tumor. She had her thyroid removed in two separate surgeries because the doctor had originally hoped that she could keep half of it; However, the tumor ended up be cancerous, and they had to go back in and remove the remaining half.
Due to all of the radiation and chemo, Mia does suffer from brittle bones and will be subject to osteoporosis and early onset menopause. Now 15, she is doing quite well in school. As a sophomore at Legacy High School, Mia is maintaining A’s and B’s even though her treatment left her with some processing difficulties. School work may not come to her as quickly as to others, but Mia has never been a quitter or complainer and she has found her own ways to succeed. She has taken an interest in archery and that has improved her strength in her weakened left arm. After two additional routine follow-up appointments in 2021, Mia will have reached ten years post-treatment and that is as far as patients are followed. Mia wants to be an elementary teacher when she graduates, thanks to her favorite teacher from first grade. She has regained most of her sass back and while she’s not quite the social butterfly that her sisters are, she’s finally coming out of her shell a bit more. She did get her permit last summer, so her next goal is to get her driver’s license.