grace wethor turns diagnosis into new
grace wethor turns diagnosis into new
Grace Wethor has always been a creative kid — she was in the circus as a kid, she would design outfits on the loose paper in her notebooks and she loved to sing. But in seventh grade, life threw her a curveball.
“I started getting very sick and tired, but none of the doctors could figure out what was wrong with me, a lot of them were just saying that I was just a teenager and I would kind of grow out of it,” Grace said.
Grace was diagnosed with a brainstem glioma — a tumor in the pons of the brain. Her tumor, because of its location, was inoperable. Because of this, she was given an 8% chance of surviving the next six months.
Once she knew she might only have six months left to accomplish all the big goals she had set, Grace moved to Los Angeles, California to start living what was left of her life the way she wanted.
“I truly believe it was what helped me stay healthy and continue to fight my battles, because every day I had a reason to get out of bed and I was exploring and I'm outside and doing things I loved,” Grace said.
This past January, Grace celebrated six years of her tumor being completely stable. She still has her tumor, but she lives every day with an awareness of the second shot at life she was given.
“I started looking at things a lot longer term than most 13 year olds look at things, and I started thinking of careers and things that I wanted to pursue and achieve if I really only had six months,” Grace said.
Grace has written a book, given a Ted Talk, directed and starred in movies, modelled and done so much more. Despite her busy professional life, Grace continues to speak up about the things she cares about.
“For me, film is just something that I love to do,” Grace said. “I always say that my goal in film is to build a platform that I can then use to share things that are very important to me.”
Lately, Grace has been lobbying for House Resolution 114, a bill that expresses “support for the designation of the 17th day in May as ‘DIPG Awareness Day.’” DIPG is a type of brain cancer in children with an extremely low survival rate.
“I try to use my voice every day and be a voice for those kids who no longer have one of their own,” Grace said. “I work a lot with Congress to work on brain cancer legislation to hopefully implement funding and eventually research and hopefully a cure one day, as well as pursuing my own passions, which for me are all in entertainment and film.”
Grace said the resolution passed unanimously in the Senate and now has over 215 co-sponsors in the House. She hopes the resolution will not only raise awareness for DIPG, but help bring more funding to research and a cure.
“There's some exciting things happening in brain cancer research for the types of tumors right now. But the funding is very hard to come by. So my job is to just get out there and tell my story to as many of these Congress members as I can,” Grace said.
Telling your story, Grace said, helps us connect to each other on a deeper level.
“We all have very similar emotions and experiences. They may not be as dramatic as what my path looks like, but I think if we can really try to connect with each other and understand what people go through on a daily basis the world would be a lot better place,” Grace said.
If she could give one piece of advice to someone just starting their journey, she said it would be to find your community that will support you and where you can share your experiences.
“You don't have to be open about your story until you're ready,” Grace said. “But just know that there are other people experiencing this thing, it makes it a lot easier to get through the day today.”