Piper Waneka was a princess at heart, a leader of the pack, a proud big sister, and as we discovered, a warrior too.
Described as a “glitter explosion,” Piper made every day an occasion for hot-pink hair and an unbreakable smile. Her costume and shoe collection came to rival that of her music idol, Michael Jackson. She was intelligent, funny, creative, brave beyond her years, and bursting with spirit. She dreamed of becoming a space doctor and a mama, and she would’ve too.
But Piper’s world changed on June 12, 2017, when at the age of just 3 ½, she was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an inoperable tumor in her brainstem. DIPG occurs primarily in young children and there is currently no known cause, nor cure.
Following her devastating diagnosis, Piper endured 2 surgeries, 7 MRIs, 40 radiation sessions, went under general anesthesia 60 times, was in the hospital 100+ times, and fought through two separate rounds of chemotherapy treatments. Despite all her strength, and the many efforts of her team at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Piper passed away on October 19, 2018 —just two months shy of her 5th birthday.
Piper embodied love and strength every day of her 16-month battle, and in doing so inspired a vast community, known as Warriors for Princess Piper, to raise DIPG awareness and critical research funds.
The Colorado Chapter honors Piper by saying her name, remembering her joy, and continuing her legacy. Together, we will change this unacceptable prognosis for future children.