Oklahoma City girl battles rare illness that claimed her brother

BY VALLERY BROWN vbrown@opubco.com Modified: October 19, 2012 at 10:29 pm •  Published: October 21, 2012
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He swells with pride recounting Gregory Dwayne's good behavior, catching personality and aptitude for sports. He fights back tears as the weight of the loss creeps in.

Anbria Glenn has been told by doctors that her children's illness likely is hereditary, but no one in either of their families has been diagnosed with the disease. Since her son was diagnosed, she's read up on everything she can about the rare condition.

“My son's surgeon told me to stay off the Internet because I was quoting things that I had read and asking her about them,” Anbria Glenn said. “A doctor in one of the medical centers who asked me what was going on with my son asked me if I worked in the medical field after hearing my explanation.”

It's often said that the family that laughs together stays together, and the axiom isn't lost on the Glenns.

“They're my team,” Gregory Glenn said of his wife and daughters. He has an older daughter who is grown and lives outside the home. “We couldn't do this without each other.”

Trip of a lifetime

They giggle about how a doll in the likeness of Gregory Dwayne — about the size of little Abria — sits on the couch next to his sister. Anbria Glenn said the family often positions the television remote on the doll's lap, because Gregory Dwayne always liked to have control over the television.

The doll was with the family in September when Abria found out about her trip to Walt Disney World Resort in front of her teachers and classmates at Stanley Hupfeld Academy.

Donning purple fairy wings, a tiara and a magic wand, Abria's teacher, Beth LaFave, a cancer survivor, granted Abria's wish for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. The organization helps children who have life-threatening medical conditions.

“I think her wish had a lot to do with honoring her brother,” LaFave said. “To be able to give her something positive is precious. That smile on her face, that says it all.”

LaFave said she often talks to Abria about her illness. Though Abria's youth keeps her from fully understanding some things about it, LaFave said it's given her a maturity and a kindness that's exceptional.

In front of her school and classmates, Abria was a princess, crown and all. She smiled shyly and hugged her teacher and parents, whispering to them that she loves them.

Gregory Glenn carried with him the Gregory Dwayne doll so Abria's brother could be a part of the special event.

As they smiled and thanked everyone for being there for their family, the send-off was somewhat bittersweet.

Abria held tightly to her parents, and said without flinching that her brother would be with them on the trip to Florida.

Despite everything, the family would be together on this journey of a lifetime.