That We Might Have Joy: Devree's Story

When I was 14, I was diagnosed with a brain cancer called medulloblastoma. This cancerous tumor was located on the nerve bundle that controls the hearing and facial movement on my right side. The cancer had also spread to my spine. They said it was like a sugarcoating. I had 33 rounds of the highest radiation used to treat cancer on both my head and the length of my spine, followed by 4 rounds of chemotherapy where I was an inpatient for almost a month each round. I lost over 40 pounds while I was in treatment, as well as the hearing in my right ear and the movement on the right side of my face. Because all my feminine parts had been radiated, I was told there was a very small chance I will ever be able to become pregnant. I also developed neuropathy in my feet, so the nerves did not respond to my brain, and I couldn’t lift up my toes. I had to wear leg braces and use a walker for more than 6 months after my treatment had completed. I was in treatment from the end of January of 2009 to the beginning of August 2009.

There are still some sad things I face today, like the small chance of ever conceiving, which brings tears to my eyes today. Although I am cancer free, there are still some things I have to fight. The facial paralysis left me mostly blind in my right eye, and I’m completely deaf in my right ear. I can’t really run or hop or skip, but I can walk and very rarely fall down.

How have I found joy through this challenge? While I was in treatment, my mom and I would play the glad game. It’s a game where everyday, no matter how awful it was, we would find something to be glad about. Some days, it was that the most adorable kid was in the waiting room. Some days, it was that I didn’t throw up for several hours. Other days, it was that my white blood cell count was up by 5 or that there was a good flavor of gelato available. It didn’t have to be big things, like the circus came to town or that I was miraculously healed. Everyday, I found some tender mercy that let me know that God was looking out for me, and even though it was an awful trial I had to endure, there was still beauty and wonder all around me. I am now cancer free, going on 8 years. After some facial reconstructive surgeries, I can move my whole face. I can walk without leg braces or a walker. I still don’t have a full head of hair, and never will, but I have several wigs and get to change my hairstyle whenever I feel like it. That’s another thing that helped me is finding all the pros and cons. Radiation and chemo were awful, but I have completely clear skin now. Mosquitoes didn’t bite me for a while after treatment. I’m a lovely pale color which I’m convinced will come back into fashion. Anything can be seen as awful when we only look at in that way. Look for sunshine in your life as well as the silver lining of your woes.


During treatment


  1. This is Devree's mom and it makes me cry tears of joy to see how far she has come! I wish everyone to know that she is GRADUATING COLLEGE next month! She is an amazing miracle!

  2. My heart is so full! I love you Devs! You are an inspiration to all of us! You have been such a blessing in our lives! I LOVE YOU sweet girl! Thanks for sharing your story! 😘

  3. My heart is filled with joy at the beautiful ELECT LADY I see in Devree. I have watched from a distance as she has endured accepted and then excelled. Thankfully, we were on the way to Germantown so we got a chance to visit with Shana. (THanks Devree) Sure love you Devree! Petersen

    1. Correction! We lived in Springfield which was on the way for Shana to visit when she came out to Germantown to bring Devree for treatment!