Alex Smith and wife Elizabeth open up about their daughter's medical journey
Alex Smith is opening up about a difficult journey for his family.
Speaking with The New York Times, the former NFL quarterback, 39, opened up about a horrific series of events that changed his family — which includes wife Elizabeth and their three children, 7-year-old Sloane, Hayes, 10, and Hudson, 12 — and their lives forever.
In May 2022, there was a night when Elizabeth noticed Sloane was experiencing "stroke-like" symptoms that included being sluggish, slurring her words and not using her right arm, leading the couple to call 911.
Smith and Elizabeth were shocked when doctors returned and revealed that Sloane had a brain tumor and required an emergency craniotomy — the surgical removal of part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain per Johns Hopkins.
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Though he nearly faced an amputation after a horrific injury in the tail end of his career, Smith told the outlet it was nothing compared to the pain of learning what his daughter would go through.
"It’s different when it’s your little girl and you’re helpless with how terrifying that is," he shared.
After a 10-hour surgery aimed to relieve pressure on Sloane's brain, they learned the tumor was slow-growing. Though Sloane woke up and was able to talk and move her arm, the family still faced fears.
"You just have no idea what it means," Smith said. "The words brain tumor are terrifying."
What gave them hope was when they FaceTimed Hudson on his 12th birthday and unprompted, she sang to her brother. She also still likes to do the things 7-year-old girls do, like get into her mom's makeup.
“We try not to parent them differently,” Elizabeth says of life after the tumor. “But, I do have a different perspective on kids and their childhood now.”
The tumor was found to be malignant and required a second 10-hour surgery after doctors noticed there were still pieces of it left after her first surgery.
"We found out last fall that essentially that they had missed a piece, that there was a little piece in there left over,” Smith explained.
The family is living "from scan to scan," working with everyone in Sloane's life to ensure her health and safety, including her school after she recently experienced two seizures.
“I spent so many times going down these rabbit holes of what I’ll ever be able to do again and my prognosis,” Smith said of his own health. “And what does that do for you? It’s not doing any good and certainly it’s far harder as a parent, but no different."
He added, "I don’t know if you get any better at it. This is something that’s so much bigger and harder. Do you get better at compartmentalizing? I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m not sure."
Sloane's focus these days is working her way up to competitive dance, with Elizabeth proudly sharing, "She's a little badass."
"They know that you can overcome things, and you can fight through, and you can go back to living your life. Right? They got to go through that journey with their dad," she said. "I think it’s probably hopeful for them, right?"
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