On her 13th birthday Saturday, Faithann Hodorowicz will be a regular teenage girl, laughing and chatting with friends at a pizza party in her honor.
But just two weeks ago, the active Carson City girl was undergoing brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. And two weeks from now, she'll be undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatments.
On June 25, Annette Hodorowicz, a second-grade teacher at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School, said she noticed her oldest daughter limping. That day at the pediatrician's office, she learned Faithann had a tumor on the right side of her brain. That night, mother and daughter jumped on a plane to Oakland Children's Hospital.
On June 27, a brain scan showed doctors what they were up against, and on June 29, Faithann underwent an 11-hour surgery where most of the 4-by-5-centimeter invader was removed. They were unable to remove tentacles reaching deeper into the brain.
"I think I cried so much that night at the hospital that I'm all cried out," said Hodorowicz, herself a breast cancer survivor. "We've cried together."
And though they have questioned why this has happened, she said their faith in God has helped them be strong.
Now, Faithann must undergo chemotherapy to attack the primitive neuroectodermal tumor, an aggressive and common brain cancer, which will likely delay the start of her eighth-grade year. Hodorowicz and her mother will return to Oakland in less than two weeks.
Hodorowicz said she's surprised by her daughter's strength.
"I think that it helps that I'm strong for her, too," she said.
She thinks her own battle with cancer and chemotherapy treatment two years ago, witnessed by her children, has helped Faithann to understand the process.
"She said, 'I just want to get it out of my body.' She knows that I'm still around, so she thinks, 'Mom did it, now it's my turn. I'll just do it'," Hodorowicz said. "We just take it one day at a time. I have a strong faith in God. God will get us through this."
Faithann was shy Wednes-
day as she and her mother talked about the hospital stay that came out of nowhere.
All the attention she's been getting is different than what she's received dancing, or on the track, softball or soccer fields.
She seemed to just want to deal with it quietly and get on with life.
Hodorowicz, a single mother, is doing what needs to be done. Most pressing is making arrangements for her younger daughters, AnnJi, 10, and Hannah Hope, 9, to go to Chicago with her sister while she and Faithann are in Oakland for the four-day-on five-week-off chemotherapy schedule.
But the events have been made less horrible by the outpouring of support they've received.
On Faithann's Caringbri
dge.org Web site, there have been more than 3,900 hits and more than 37 pages of well wishes.
Friends and family are helping with travel expenses and the hospital bills that are mounting.
Since Sunday, when they returned home for a two-week respite, dinner has been served from the kitchens of their friends.
Faithann's Girl Scout troop arrived with balloons and posters to cheer her up.
"We are just so grateful for all the help," said Hodorowicz. "I couldn't even begin to tell you all the wonderful things people have done for us."