TICONDEROGA - When Ann Knight's 11-year-old son, Riley, was diagnosed with brain stem glioma, it was something that took them both by surprise. It was also something that was found starting with the slightest symptom.
"We were eating one day and Riley got food on the right side of his mouth," recalled Knight. "I told him to wipe his face. He told me he couldn't feel it."
Knight said her son had recently had his braces tightened, so she at first attributed the loss of feeling in his face to that. However, when they went downstairs, Riley had to sit down because he was feeling dizzy.
"He said, 'I can't walk down the stairs. I have no balance,'" recalled Knight.
Immediately, Knight took her son to the local health center, where she said they were unable to see him. The two then traveled to the emergency room at Moses Ludington Hospital, where Riley was initially diagnosed with his condition before being sent on to Fletcher Allen Healthcare in Burlington, Vt., for further examination.
The diagnosis was one that came as a shock to Knight and her son, who only later learned a cousin on Knight's father's side died from brain tumors similar to one that has formed in Riley's brain.
"It came completely out of left field," Knight said of the diagnosis, which was given last August.
Over the course of the past six months, Riley has undergone radiation treatments to combat the cancerous tumor in his brain. However, Riley was recently given only nine months to live - a prognosis that was even more recently lessened to a matter of weeks.
"His tumor's growing, putting pressure on his brain, which is causing seizures," explained Knight. "The worst part is watching him lose his independence."
The boy who once was so active in sports, band, chorus and drama has been robbed of the ability to do the things he loves, said Knight. But, Riley's spirits remain as high as they can possibly be in his condition, through the support of his family and friends.