ST. MARYS — For St. Marys resident Courtney Roby, 17, this week was a little bit of sunshine in what has proven to be an impossibly difficult year.
In July 2012, doctors discovered Roby had a brain tumor. She had been having headaches five or six months earlier, her mother, Chasity Buchanan, said. She took Courtney to the chiropractor, who didn’t find anything serious. When they persisted, Buchanan scheduled Roby for a consultation at Dayton Children’s Medical Center. Roby never left the hospital that day.
The doctors diagnosed her with hydrocephalus, or fluid on the brain. They made a hole to drain the fluid from her brain back down into her spine, and also biopsied her tumor. Surgery to remove it was unsuccessful, as it is located in a part of her brain that is too dangerous to touch.
In late December, Roby started radiation to try to shrink it. To everyone’s surprise, including Roby’s doctors, it is working.
“It’s getting smaller,” Buchanan said, adding that Roby’s tumor has shrunk by two to three millimeters since then according to her latest MRI. Roby’s last treatment was in February, but the radiation keeps working for a full six more months, Buchanan said.
On another good note, Roby recently had a wish approved by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. On Sunday, she, her mother, four siblings and a cousin went from a limo to the airport where they then flew to Houston, Texas.
On Tuesday, Roby and her family went backstage at Carrie Underwood’s concert to meet the singer, then took their first-row seats to enjoy the country star’s concert. The whole process from start to end went quickly, Buchanan said.
“It was sometime around December when she got the wish granted,” Buchanan said. “It usually takes two years to get a celebrity wish approved.”
Buchanan had to submit a form online to enter Roby’s name on the list of Make-A-Wish recipients, and not long after she received an email saying her submission went through. Roby’s wish granters, Nick and Julie Schulze of Maria Stein, contacted the family soon after.
They came to meet Courtney and her family, and had her compile a list of her top three wishes. Meeting Carrie Underwood and getting a guitar were her top wish, which the couple granted.
Roby, who was a student at Memorial High School, said she was ecstatic to hear she would get to meet Underwood.
“My mom tried to keep it a secret from me and then she told me I do get to go to a concert,” Roby said. “It’s an awesome feeling.”
She is more obsessed with Underwood as a person than an artist, although Roby listens to every song of hers when they play on the radio.
“I just always wanted to meet her,” Roby said. “She seems so nice.”
The day Roby spoke to The Evening Leader was the day she would be attending the concert.
“I have no idea what to say to her,” she said. “I’m shy.”
Her experience thus far had consisted of a limo ride, which she said was fun but a bit overwhelming. She said she and her mother pushed all the buttons they could see to try to get all the amenities working (like the TV they never figured out how to turn on), but ended up rolling down windows and the divider.
This trip was Roby’s first plane ride, and she is not a big fan of flying. Switching planes at the airport was scary, she said, as well as when the plane landed.
Everything after that, though, had been great, she said. The hotel room she and her family is staying in, in the Hilton, is big.
“Yesterday was our free day and we went to the zoo,” she said. “We got lost a couple times.”
Houston is much bigger than she could have imagined, and a drastic change from St. Marys.
“(There are) all kinds of tall buildings around us,” she said. “The zoo was my favorite part so far, but today’s going to be the best. We get to go backstage to meet her (and) we get to sit in the front row.”
Roby never expected this week to become a reality or that her wish would be granted so quickly, and she is grateful to a lot of people.
“I would like to thank the Make a Wish people and Carrie Underwood and my family for making this happen,” she said.
Her mother expressed gratitude toward Roby’s wish granters, without whom Roby’s wish would never have been more than that.
“I would like to thank Nick and Julie and Carrie Underwood for allowing my daughter to come see her show and my cousin Keysha for coming with us and helping me with all my kids,” Buchanan said. “Without family you don’t have anything.”