HELENA — Given the choice of pain and pain-free, Alayna Hutching's parents are doing what they think is best for their daughter. Alayna was diagnosed with a fast-growing tumor on her brain stem, which isn't fit for traditional treatments or surgery due to the nature of the tumor.
"I've told doctors, it's not due to the fact if my child is going to be here in six months, a year, 10 years; my biggest thing is her happiness, but also being pain-free," said Warren Hutchings, Alayna's father.
Alayna is about as normal as a 7-year-old could be. Alayna's favorite subjects at school are reading and math, and her favorite color is pink, with purple and blue coming in close seconds.
In March, one of Alayna's eyes became cross-eyed prompting a visit to an optometrist, a visit that changed the course of the Hutchings family's life.
"That was kind of an urgent visit. Her dad and her came in because she had a sudden eye turn that happened that weekend," said Angie Biskupiak Zepeda. "In the back of the eyes, we also saw her nerves were swollen, her optic nerves were swollen, which can indicate that there might be some increased swelling in the brain."
“We took her to the ER, they did an MRI and then they asked me: ‘How quick can my wife be here?’ I said, 'Quick, why?' Well, she's going to be life flown in 30 minutes," said Warren, recounting his conversations with doctors that day.
"Then they found the tumor and they said... she has a brain tumor and they said with what kind of tumor she has there ain't nothing they could do at this time,” Warren said.
Currently, the only option Alayna and the Hutchings family have been given is hope the tumor stops growing.
"I don't think no parents want to hear that, you know, not knowing A: how long your child has left to live, but to think about, is your child going to be in pain for on top of it? Everyone always says fight, fight and your daughter's a fighter. But do you really expect as a parent, unless you're thinking about yourself, do you really want your child to fight and be in pain, but still holding on for your reason, because you can't live without her? And just, in a way, you're thinking about yourself, instead of your child that could be suffering or in pain," said Warren.
In an effort to fill her life with joy, Billing's Flying Service donated a ride on a helicopter and a Helena car dealership is donating a trip to Hawaii to the family.
While her parents are focused on making Alayna's life as pleasant and pain-free as possible, they still are not taking no for an answer. The Hutching family is slated to go to Phoenix Children's Hospital in hopes of finding a way to treat Alayna's tumor, an expensive trip that people in Montana and all over the country have stepped in to help cover.
"The GoFundMe, we told everybody $1 helps. It's done pretty good. We raised around $5,600 off that. That's actually covering pretty much a whole trip to Phoenix," said Warren.
"I'm just in shock and amazed at the people that have, you know, donated and taken time out of their life and out of their pocketbook to help this little girl. So it's just a big heartfelt thank you from, from our entire family," said Mikaya Hutchings, Alayna's mother.
Alongside the GoFundMe, organizations, businesses, and individuals have stepped in to donate funds or prizes to be raffled off to help alleviate costs of travel, or treatments for Alayna if one comes available.
While there isn't a date for the raffle just yet, the family is still taking donations on their GoFundMe account and accepting raffle prizes for the event. In the meantime, the Hutching Family is still going to look for a yes in an effort to treat Alayna.
"I tell anybody, as long as she hasn't given up, I'm not gonna give up. She gives me the strength, everything I have is in her," said Warren. "We're gonna keep calling doctors, we're gonna keep looking for specialists until we can't anymore, and then that's when you're like, okay, then you lay all into that tumor just to quit growing."