ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Brain cancer at any age is a frightening, life-altering challenge. So it’s impossible to imagine what it must be like getting the news as parents of a kindergartner.
But that’s the terrifying reality that Abdirahim Ali and his wife, Barbara Christian are faced with. The couple’s daughter Amina is only 5 years old and bright as the day is long.
“She say every day she want to come to school and be a regular kid,” Ali said.
Sadly, she can’t. Amina had just started school at St. Paul’s Dugsi Academy last September when her migraine headaches turned out to be a brain tumor. Surgery was performed to remove the golf ball sized tumor and begin radiation treatment.
“It’s called PNET tumor, which is an aggressive cancer tumor,” Ali said.
Students at the Somali charter school are learning far more than the three R’s. Amina’s cancer fight is teaching them the value of family — and helping out in a time of need.
“It was hard at first, everyone was just speechless, wanted to do something, but didn’t know quite how to approach it,” said the school’s instructional coach, Sara Kiekbusch.
The school’s cheetah squad got together and decided to raise money — to defray the family’s lost income and travel costs to hospitals, from here to Chicago.
“I immediately saw light bulbs in (the students’) heads that they wanted to do something as well, and it was like mad chaos in our meetings because they all had ideas,” Kiekbusch said.
One of those ideas was to hold a school sponsored dinner. When it was over they served up a check to the family in the amount of $5,000 to help defray their costs.
Sometimes, what’s learned at school goes well beyond numbers and words. In this case, students have learned to tap into their feelings for love, caring and compassion.
Looking at his daughter’s challenge ahead, Ali said, “if this shot goes through, luckily, we want her to be a regular kid as anybody else’s kid and get to feel better. She should have that chance at life.”
Amina’s PETN cancer has a 65-percent cure rate. She will begin another six- to eight-month regimen of chemotherapy in a few days.
A fund has been set up at the school if you’d like to help the family.
Checks should be made out to:
Sara Kiekbusch – Amina Ali Fund
c/o Dugsi Academy
1091 Snelling Ave. N.
Saint Paul, MN 55108