Updated: 04/30/2014 10:51 PM
Created: 04/30/2014 8:28 PM KSTP.com
By: Stephen Tellier
Their 5-year-old little girl fought the battle of a lifetime - and won. She had a malignant brain tumor, but a Plymouth family turned the despair of that diagnosis into hope.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS first introduced you to little Alivia Nordeen just before Christmas. At the time, she was in the hospital and she couldn't move, couldn't eat and couldn't speak. After months of treatment and recovery, we met her in person for the first time Wednesday, and found that she has made amazing progress.
There's something about playing with her puppy, Lucy, that just cracks Alivia up.
"I like chasing her around," Alivia said.
It's a simple scene that means a little more to the Nordeens.
"We wake up every morning and see the scars that she will have for the rest of her life," said Becky Nordeen, Alivia's mother.
Alivia's neck is a constant reminder of one of the most frightening images a parent can ever lay eyes on: a malignant tumor on a child's brain.
"Everything at that moment came crashing down on us," said Josh Nordeen, Alivia's father.
That was the day before Thanksgiving. Surgeries and six weeks of radiation therapy followed. Alivia's muscles weakened, and she lost the ability to speak.
"We hoped upon hope that she would recover. We just didn't know what to expect," Josh Nordeen said.
But very slowly, the old Alivia started coming back, and a mother finally heard her daughter's voice again.
"She started answering the nurses. When they would ask her a question, she would say, 'Yeah,' and I was just amazed. I thought, 'Is this really happening?'" Becky Nordeen said.
Alivia's infectious laugh followed soon thereafter.
But the 5-year-old girl was starting from scratch.
"She had to relearn everything. She had to relearn, basically, how to hold her own head, sit, move her arms and legs," Becky Nordeen said.
Alivia still struggles with mobility and motor skills. But her parents have learned there is no obstacle too tough for their little girl to tackle.
"We're pretty determined to not let cancer run our lives, or our daughter's life," Becky Nordeen said.
Alivia had an MRI a few weeks ago, and she is officially cancer-free. She is currently going through physical and speech therapy, and plans to start kindergarten in fall.