In June 2014, Emily Thomas dipped under the water one more time as her family finished swimming, when she had a seizure. Seeing her body float to the surface, her parents performed CPR and, two minutes later, got her heart beating again. But when doctors performed an MRI scan at the hospital, the family came face to face with a new hurdle: the 10-year-old had a large tumor in her brain, reports the Arizona Republic. The tumor wasn't cancerous, but it also wasn't entirely benign in that it was causing Emily's increasingly frequent and violent seizures—which had previously been diagnosed as acid-reflux disease.
After trying new medications, Emily's condition only worsened. The left side of her face drooped and she was having so many seizures she couldn't keep going to school. Emily's family opted for brain surgery at Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz., to remove the tumor. Doctors used a stereotactic guidance system—what the Republic calls "medical GPS"—to see what they were doing with extreme precision, and the surgery was a success. "To see somebody's life change like that and see little miracles in action, it's exciting," her head surgeon says. As for Emily, she now wants to be a nurse, and help other kids with seizures. "You would know what it's like because you've been through it, too," she says, adding: "Plus the nurses get to stay up all night. I bet they party." (See how this teen with a brain tumor spent the last months of her life.)