Battling AVM with Superhero Strength

By: Erin Myers Email
By: Erin Myers Email

5-year-old Dylan Tolen wants to be a superhero when she grows up, but having already undergone more than 12 brain surgeries and procedures by the time she's in preschool, Dylan's battle gives a new meaning to super hero strength.

"She's had a whole bunch of surgeries this past year and she should be fine now but we do have a couple of upcoming procedures, but not brain surgeries, thankfully," said Melissa Tolen, Dylan's mom.

Shortly after her first birthday, Dylan was diagnosed with having an arteriovenous malformation on her brain which is an abnormal cluster of arteries and veins, causing seizure-like symptoms and problems with coordination. Following the surgeries, Melissa says Dylan had to relearn the basics.

"Since August, she was at Madonna Rehabilitation, relearning how to do basic things-- dress herself, walk, get ready for school," said Melissa.

Dylan's dad, Anthony Tolen, says her younger brother Jacob has helped her with recovery... whether he knows it or not.

"After her craniotomy, she stayed very quiet for quite some time. Just him being around, being a boy, taking her toys, made her vocalize what she wanted and him being able to move quite rapidly makes her chase after him also," said Anthony.

Melissa Tolen says they wanted to hold a soup dinner at their church, showing their appreciation for everyone's support.

"It's amazing the amount that we've gotten through because of the support we've gotten through the community, our church and family and friends," said Melissa.

She says the real hero is Dylan.

"She's really been amazing through all of this. Just great, showing strength and a lot of bravery with every different procedure she's gone through," said Melissa.

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