The Tube-i-Corns: When in Doubt, Dance it Out

The Tube-i-Corns: When in Doubt, Dance it Out

Dance is a form of art and athleticism using interpretation, expression and creativity. Movement can be described as a musical power because it transfers an individual to another place for a point in time. At Lurie Children’s, Iris Fatland, Olivia Parker, Grace Ryan and Jayne Crouthamel are experiencing the greatest fight of their lives as they battle various brain conditions. But they find light in midst of their battles — dance. From the “Cupid Shuffle,” “Cha Cha Slide” to “Whip/Nae Nae,” the girls use dance parties as an outlet for humor, relief and celebration, even naming themselves the Tube-i-Corns.

How Did Tube-i-Corns Emerge? 

Seven-year-old Iris Fatland has always been a social butterfly; she loves getting opportunities to meet new friends and build relationships with loved ones. In June 2018, Iris was diagnosed with pilocytic astrocytoma, a low-grade glioma tumor. However, she did not let her diagnosis put a burden on her outgoing personality.

After being at Lurie Children’s for many weeks, Iris became friends with 10-year-old Olivia, 8-year-old Grace and 16-year-old Jayne. Olivia was diagnosed with a malignant Glioblastoma tumor in October 2018, Grace was diagnosed with a Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma tumor in September 2018 and Jayne was born with a brain condition, called congenital hydrocephalus. In the hospital, the girls all have EVD tubes (External Ventricular Drains) to help with brain fluid, which signify the Tube-i-Corns name.

“My daughter, Olivia, loves unicorns, and when she first received an EVD tube, I told her look, you’re a real unicorn now, and Olivia responded, no I’m a tube-i-corn,” said AnnaMaria Parker, Olivia’s mom.

Tube-i-Corns is simply a group of girls who joined together to have dance parties in midst of infusions, radiation, chemotherapy and surgeries.

“Since June, Iris has had seven surgeries and two long inpatient stays,” said Kathi Fatland, Iris’ mom. “I feel very lucky that Lurie Children’s offers opportunities for Iris to meet other kids going through similar obstacles.”   

The girls’ passions for dance and music have transferred onto others. They have convinced Lurie Children’s nurses, child life specialists and physicians to sing and dance with them. Olivia’s mom credits Lurie Children’s team for encouraging the girls to have fun and dance.

“When Olivia was first diagnosed, she was scared and nervous, but then she met other girls who were going through the same thing she was,” described AnnaMaria. “The dance parties allow them to participate in normal little girl [activities].”

In September, Grace had surgery to resect as much of her tumor as possible. After surgery, she experienced cerebellar mutism, causing her to have speech, motion and balance issues, in addition to double vision. At Lurie Children’s, once Grace became more mobile and gained her strength back, she visited with the other girls in the Family Life Center where they played games and chatted.

“Their dancing occurred in the spur of the moment,” said John Ryan, Grace’s dad. “The first time I remember them dancing was when Grace was in the hospital for three weeks in September. The day she was discharged, they all had a dance party by the nurse’s station, and the nurses danced with them. It was really rewarding to see how they used dance to celebrate a special moment like this.”

Jayne has had 13 brain surgeries due to her condition. Her mom, Pam, said Tube-i-Corns has created a bonding experience for the girls and parents without thinking about medicine.

“Despite everything the girls are going through, they just want to have fun in the end, and Tube-i-Corn lets them do that,” expressed Kathi.

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