Tiar Tough: Learn how to help a local five-year-old battling a rare, aggressive adrenal cancer

The family of five-year-old Tiar Heckman is asking for your prayers, thoughts and any financial support you can spare as she battles a very rare form of aggressive adrenal cancer. / Photo courtesy Brittany Heckman

BUCKHANNON – A local five-year-old girl and her family and friends are asking for your help, prayers and well wishes as she begins her battle against ACC, or adrenocortical carcinoma.

Tiar Heckman is the daughter of Nicole and Carl Heckman and is a full-time remote kindergarten student at Union Elementary School in Mrs. Ronna Smallridge’s class.

This week, Tiar’s ‘bonus’ mom, Brittany Heckman, sat down with My Buckhannon to share Tiar’s journey so far in her illness and upcoming treatment. Brittany said they found out Tiar had a tumor for which she had surgery. When the tumor was removed, doctors checked her kidneys, liver and spleen – all of which they said looked good.

“ACC is a very rare, but aggressive cancer,” Brittany said. “There are only about 25 cases per million people and only 0.2 percent are children, so it is super rare.”

One of the main things the Heckman family wants to share is more awareness of the disease, particularly its symptoms. Brittany said some of the symptoms Tiar had included acne, facial and leg hair that was very thick for her age.

“We are thankful to get her into St. Jude’s Hospital,” Brittany said. “They estimate there are about 50 nodules in her lungs. The specialist at St. Jude’s Hospital has handled cases of this before, and he is going to be monitoring her case to make sure she is getting the best care they can provide her.”

Brittany said when Tiar goes to St. Jude’s hospital, her father, Carl, will only be able to stay the first five days due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“After that, he has to leave because only one parent will be allowed to be with her during the rest of her treatment,” Brittany said. “Once she starts her treatment, she will be immuno-compromised, and they will not want her exposed to any germs. Her first clinic appointment is Monday, and they will talk about what the game plan is for her treatment. We are so blessed that St. Jude’s is taking her on as a patient.”

Brittany said Tiar is a spunky, sassy little five-year old who has a comment for everything.

“She is adorable to boot,” Brittany said. “When she first got the acne that is associated with ACC, she became very self-conscious. Since the tumor was removed, her acne is clearing up.”

Tiar really enjoys watching fire trucks. She also enjoys riding her bicycle with her big brother, and she likes to do arts and crafts with her big sister.

“Tiar is obsessed with unicorns,” Brittany said. “We have so many stuffed unicorns and unicorn blankets. She was in gymnastics and with COVID, we were not able to keep up.”

Brittany said that Tiar and the family would welcome prayers.

“We have a ton of prayer warriors praying for her and our family,” Brittany said. “We have some decals dedicated strictly to Tiar, which have green Wonder Woman logo that we are selling. We also have a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical treatment, transportation and other expenses the family needs.

That link is https://www.gofundme.com/f/TiarWonderWomanPrincess. Her mom and dad are not working right now, so some of the money will go to help pay for their bills during Tiar’s treatment.”

Brittany said shortly, they will have some awareness bracelets for sale, a benefit dinner and a car show. Information on these events will be available on Facebook TiarWWP. Please click here to like the page.

“It’s crazy how rare this disease is,” Brittany. “St. Jude’s has had four cases of ACC in the last two years.

Once Tiar is at St. Jude’s Hospital, we will have an address where cards and well wishes may be sent to Tiar to help raise her spirits during her treatment.”

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