VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - Imagine finding out you have a large brain tumor at just 12-years-old. That's reality for Vancleave Middle School student Natalie Hightower. The 7th grader underwent surgery Monday afternoon to remove the tumor and it went well.
Natalie's principal said the well-known 12-year-old was having recurring migraines and had been vomiting for weeks. Thursday, her mom took her doctor and found out some shocking news.
"They saw what that thought was a tumor and they sent her to South Alabama and the doctors met her there. They are 95 to 99 percent sure it is not malignant, but they do have to do surgery," Vancleave Middle School Principal Jill Davis said.
As a show of love and support for Natalie, the entire school decided to wear orange, which is her favorite color. The principal said the unity is also helping lift these kids' spirits.
"I wanted them to know that this is not this was not doom and gloom. They we are not assuming the worse for Natalie. We are doing something that is her favorite to keep everything up and exciting for her," Principal Davis said.
Many of the 7th graders at Vancleave Middle School said it's just not the same since Natalie Hightower has been absent from class.
"We miss her because she's always like the funniest person in class," classmate Olivia Cason said.
"She is very well-known because of her personality and love," said best friend Makayla Moore.
Her cheerleading coach and squad couldn't agree more. They have also been trying to stay positive at practice.
"We got to Face Time Natalie on my phone. We were able to pass around the phone and they were able to tell her how much they missed her," Coach Lesley Fairley said.
They and so many others in the community are praying Natalie gets well soon. Her cheerleading spot will also be waiting for her when she returns.
"I am just hoping she has a good recovery and come back as good as ever," Moore said.
Natalie's mom said she will have another MRI Tuesday. The school also plans to give Natalie special get well soon goodies once she returns home.
An account has also been set up at Hancock Bank for Natalie's medical expenses. If you're interested in donating to the Natalie Hightower Medical Fund, just stop by any Hancock Bank branch.
You can also keep up with Natalie's progress, and post your own well wishes on the "Prayers for Natalie" Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/prayersfornataliehightower