Local Mom, Tara Hackley Explains Why She Is Participating in Tour De Pier! Guest Blog

I would like to introduce you to Tara Hackley who is sharing her story about her son’s cancer. The story is heart-wrenching and meaningful. There is more to this story since Tara Hackley also participates in fund-raising activities like the Tour de Pier. The 4th Annual Tour de Pier is a unique fundraising event that brings one of the hottest indoor fitness activities — stationary cycling — to the gorgeous outdoors of Manhattan Beach. This event is one of the most popular events in the South Bay area and it supports three different cancer charities via the fundraising of the cyclists.

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Tara Hackley and her son, Chinny (Christian)

“The Luckiest Unlucky Boy”

When asked to share my story, it’s hard to know where to begin and what to share. How do I articulate what it’s like to be told that my perfectly healthy, beautiful two-year-old son had a brain tumor?

I will never forget the exact moment that we received the shocking news.

In December 2010, Chinny (a nickname for Christian) had gotten a mild concussion. His pediatrician requested a CT scan to be sure there wasn’t a brain bleed. There was a “shadow” found on his scan. The doctor said most likely there was nothing to worry about but, she made an appointment for an MRI at UCLA just to be sure. The moment we arrived, the doctor told us that Chinny had a brain tumor. How could that be? Nothing had been verified yet. Of course, my gut told me that the doctor must know what he is saying, but my heart was pleading for him to be wrong. Before we knew it, Chinny was diagnosed with a very large brain tumor.

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The Hackley family

A few days later, he would have his first craniotomy. Sadly, the surgeon determined that the tumor was attached to Chinny’s brainstem and that surgery was too risky and chemotherapy was suggested as an alternate treatment. Our hearts were shattered. The tumor wasn’t coming out. All of the research indicated a direct correlation between the amount of tumor removed and long-term survival. Since none of the tumor was removed, Chinny had a zero percent chance of living past five years. That night, standing by our son’s bedside in the PICU, we realized what we were going to be up against. Chinny was going to have to live with a brain tumor for the rest of his life.

His next surgery was to place a port under his skin so he could receive chemotherapy. Immediately afterwards, he started chemo. Having his port accessed each week was awful. Watching his little body constantly get injected with poison was heartbreaking. It brought tears to my eyes. After five months of chemo and even a little shrinkage, Chinny woke-up and vomited 14 times. We knew that meant the tumor had swollen or grown. We also knew that meant he would need emergency surgery to remove whatever they could of the tumor, regardless of the risks. Luckily, I had spent the last five months researching for the very best pediatric neurosurgeon in the country in case Chinny might need another surgery. What a blessing it was, in hindsight, that I was given the gift of time to do that. We found the very best in New York and off we went.
Miraculously, that doctor was able to completely remove Chinny’s tumor without causing any deficits. After just one night at home, Chinny began to hemorrhage internally. He was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. After ten days of blood transfusions, multiple sedations and scopes, an amazing surgeon was able to find the source of the bleed and sewed the artery completely shut. For the next three days, Chinny was kept sedated on a ventilator. Those were the hardest days of all. It took three weeks for Chinny to fully recover, but once released from the hospital, we’ve never looked back. It was a scary road and there were no words to describe just how agonizing it was to watch your child suffer. We finally knew Chinny was going to survive.

I’m happy to report that was almost five years ago and today, he is still tumor free. At our last appointment, the doctor told us that Chinny is “home free”. Wow, those words were the sweetest words a mother can hear.
I remember wondering, if I had the chance to turn back time and be given a different healthy baby, would I make that trade? “Never!” Chinny was meant to be my son and I was meant to be his mom. Maybe he was only to grace the earth for a few years. If that were the case, would I still choose him? “Yes!” I wanted the honor of fighting for him, taking care of him and loving him. I also know how important it is to never lose hope.

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Tara Hackley and her son, Chinny

According to Chinny’s oncologist, “I have never seen a child at such a young age with such a large tumor, at such a compromising location recover completely unscathed.” Almost all children who have tumors removed from their brainstems have some type of residual deficit, but Chinny had none.

I think of my son as “the luckiest unlucky kid”. The chance of being diagnosed with a brain tumor is much less than one-in-a-million. The chance of a bleeding ulcer as a side-effect of brain surgery is so very small. The chance of a doctor removing the entire tumor without any side-effects is not likely at all. The chance that a child, who has gone through many surgeries and chemotherapy treatments – only to be perfectly healthy – without any deficits, is incredibly low. So at the end of this crazy experience, I can say that my little survivor is extremely lucky. Or, maybe the more appropriate word is blessed. Chinny is truly a fighter!

About the author: Tara Hackley

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Tara Hackley is Chinny’s mother. She and her family are on a mission to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. That is why she’ll be riding in the award-winning 4th Annual Tour de Pier at the Manhattan Beach Pier on May 15. She encourages the community to come out to support riders and enjoy the fun activities at the beach. The unique cycling fundraiser and health expo is free and open to the public. Proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit three local cancer charities.

About Tour de Pier:
As the “must-attend” event of the spring season in the South Bay, the Tour de Pier brings one of the hottest indoor fitness activities – stationary cycling – to the gorgeous outdoors. The area’s best instructors and celebrity guests will spin riders through five 50-minute sessions with energizing music and loads of excitement. In addition to cycling, there will be the following activities:
–a Health & Fitness Expo,
–a Cardio Kids Fun Zone with games and activities
— live entertainment.

The public is invited to come and support the riders as well as enjoy the Health & Fitness Expo, Kids Zone plus lots of entertainment. Admission is FREE. Since 2013, the Tour de Pier has raised more than $2.7M for cancer charities.

Celebrity Riders/Special Appearances by:
Gene Simmons, rock band, “Kiss”
Dolvett Quince, “The Biggest Loser” trainer
Tony Cruz, Olympic cyclist
David Tutera, WE tv’s Wedding and Entertainment Expert
Michael Muhney, actor
Deb Carson, Fox Sports Radio anchor

For more information, please visit www.tourdepier.com.

Thank you to Tara Hackley for her moving post. She tells such an amazing story! Go out to Tour de Pier and support one of those great charities. In case you can’t make it, hit the website and make a donation to the fund of your choice!

Stevie Wilson
LA-Story.com

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Author: Stevie Wilson

Digital and social media pioneer and visionary meets disruptive innovator with a passion for topics and conversations that reveal insight into the So. California lifestyle. LA-Story.com appeals to a global audience (from Asia to Africa; Middle East to Europe, No. America to Latin America) in variety of topics and sectors: style (beauty and fashion), health & fitness, entertainment (movies, TV, books, music and more) ; food, beverages & spirits; IT Security + tech , travel, special events (red carpet to green carpet) I am known for interviews ( podcasts , textual and video conversations) with notables, celebrities and companies about interesting products & brands; profiles about places that reflect the So. CA vision and special events (Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys & other events that illustrate celebrity , athletes and home-town "stars" lifestyle and initiatives.) that illuminate the insider's perspective of So. California's lifestyle . Learn what's hot in Los Angeles, NYC, MIami and stops closer to home that make this blog a must-read because the voice, attitude, authenticity and ability to grasp the essence of most sectors, brands & products make it easy for consumers to earn what makes a brand, initiative or product unique - whether, food, fashion or finance (or any other topic "on the table") With 15+ Years online launching websites, online magazines, forums, products & brands, my voice, authenticity and ability to grasp the essence of most sectors, brands & products make it easy for me to share what the online audience and consumers alike want to learn- how to shop, live and reflect the lifestyle they wish to emulate. Need to leverage digital and social media space? Reach out to me!

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