Author Mitch Albom Talks Lessons His Adopted Daughter Taught Him Before Dying of Brain Tumor

Two years have passed, but Mitch Albom and his wife, Janine, are not quick to forget the little girl, Chika, who made them a family again. This was detailed in an interview with PEOPLE and a recent tweet celebrating the kid. 

According to PEOPLE, Mitch and Janine met Chika when the tot came into the author's Haitian orphanage, "Faith Haiti Mission & Orphanage." 

Mitch Albom attends AOL BUILD Presents: Mitch Albom Discusses His Book "The Magic Strings Of Frankie Presto" at AOL Studios In New York | Photo: Getty Images

Mitch Albom attends AOL BUILD Presents: Mitch Albom Discusses His Book "The Magic Strings Of Frankie Presto" at AOL Studios In New York | Photo: Getty Images

She had just lost her mother as she died giving birth to her younger brother and was only three years of age.

However, as stated by the publication: "she captivated the Alboms with her big personality." 

However, tragedy came two years later when Mitch received news that Chika was sick. In a bid to stop her failing health, he took her to the United States, and it was then that they got the terrifying news. She was diagnosed with a 'brain tumor.' 

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I need to tell you about the Invader. When Chika was 5, her mouth and eye had drooped. A Haitian neurologist, upon examining a brain scan, concluded, “Whatever this is, there is no one in Haiti who can help her.” Doctors at @mottchildren diagnosed her with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare and fatal tumor at the base of the brain. It was grade 4. Inoperable. Prognosis? 4 months, maybe 5.⠀ ⠀ Brain tumors are now the most common cancer and cause of cancer-related death in children less than 15 years of age. There are only around 300 hundred cases of DIPG in the US each year; it usually strikes children between the ages of 5 and 9; it quickly debilitates them—their walking, their mobility, their swallowing. The tumor is in the pons and then grows tentacles that dig deeper into other areas of the brain. It is an Invader.⠀ ⠀ Treatment plans are usually chemo or radiation, which can cause swelling that is, in turn, treated by steroids that quickly puff up a child. Experimental treatments have emerged from brilliant researchers who are looking for new ways to launch an offense at the Invader.⠀ ⠀ We spent weeks in Cologne, Germany, pursuing immunotherapy, and a new radiation trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC. The survival rate is, essentially, zero.⠀ ⠀ #FindingChika is first and foremost the story of a family. But it’s one built by the mixing of time and circumstance that began with Chika’s DIPG journey.⠀ ⠀ I have learned about that word, tough, because children, especially sick children, have a toughness unique to their young souls, one that can comfort even the fretting adults around them.⠀ ⠀ The brave and persistent parents of children with DIPG have become the disease’s greatest enemy, driving fundraising, support networks, and research with the indefatigable determination that only a parent, with hope, can have. Just some of them, and all worthy of support, are:⠀ @chadtoughfoundation @defeatdipg @brookehealeyfoundation @smileforbrooklyn @curestartsnow @accorg @aidansavengers @lovechloefoundation @reflectsofgrace @why_not_devin Maddie’s Mark Foundation @anthonysavengersdipg @averystrongdipg

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Sadly, Chika was given just a few months to live, and according to Mitch, she impacted himself and his wife. 

He told PEOPLE:

"The toughest thing was that so many doctors had just accepted the inevitability of her death, and for a parent, whatever we were to her, someone who loves a child, when it's your child, that is never inevitable. It was unimaginable." 

The outlet further revealed that Chika, over time, started losing her locomotion, and one of the biggest lessons the author learned from the tot was to always put his children before himself. 

PEOPLE disclosed that Mitch gave an instance which highlighted Chika's unrelenting spirit.

There, he spoke of a scenario whereby he had to go to work, but she insisted he had to stay with her.

The pair continued with their back and forth, which saw Chika tell Mitch that his job was to carry her, and not his professional obligations. 

The author went further ahead to tell PEOPLE that he misses her as she eventually passed away in 2017, and he has now taken to social media to share a tribute to the kid. 

On Christmas Day, Mitch shared a tweet that featured a collage of different pictures of Chika alongside him and Janine.

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A needed day off in Royal Oak with Babu

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It appeared that the photos were taken at a previous Christmas celebration as she adorably posed in front of a Christmas tree. 

The photos were followed by a caption which read:

"Merry Peace Love & Light for whatever you celebrate today and tonight." 

As published by PARADE, the book titled "Finding Chika - a little girl, an earthquake, and the making of a family" is a heart-melting memoir that details their experience as they sought a remedy to Chika's condition. 

PARADE also disclosed that Mitch revealed that working on the memoir has been very helpful in helping him heal over the loss of Chika and is grateful for how readers have warmly welcomed it. 

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It was one year ago today that our precious little girl, Medjerda “Chika” Jeune, left this world to play hide and seek with the angels. She battled DIPG for two years, longer than most, and never complained, never asked “why?” She was courage, joy, stubbornness, wonder, laughter and curiosity rolled into a raspy-voiced bundle, who used to throw a blanket over herself when you entered the room and squeal, “Where’s Chika?’ We know where she is now. At peace. In heaven. She left us one year ago, heartbroken, in tears, but better than we had been before, better for having had her and having loved her and having known the pure, unfettered faith of a child, a true, delightful child of God. We miss her with every breath.

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The book was presented earlier this month at the Capitol Center for the Arts, according to THE CONCORD INSIDER.

It marked Mitch's first non-fiction work in a length of 10 years and was followed by a meet and greet at the presentation. 

Mitch Albom performs with The Rock Bottom Remainders at Chicago's House of Blues | Photo: Getty Images

Mitch Albom performs with The Rock Bottom Remainders at Chicago's House of Blues | Photo: Getty Images

We wish the author and his family solace in their hard times.

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