Art of Birthing Center founder fights to help her teenage son battle a brain tumor
By Joe Piasecki
Amy Tinney has been helping mothers bring children into the world for nearly 25 years — first as a hospital RN, then as a midwife for at-home births, and now as the founder of a holistic prenatal wellness and birthing center in Marina del Rey.
Tinney opened the Art of Birthing Center on Washington Boulevard in September 2013. Two months later, the single mom was in for the shock of her life: her only son, now 16-year-old Dylan, had a brain tumor.
Dylan’s body was struggling to recover from a bout of whooping cough, his heart rate falling dangerously low, when doctors performed a CAT scan and discovered the pilocytic astrocytoma, Tinney said. Following emergency surgery at Cedars-Sinai and an extended recovery period, follow-up scans revealed two more tumors — requiring a second surgery on April 9. Surgeons were unable to remove tumor tissue near the center of the brain, forcing Dylan to undergo ongoing chemotherapy treatment.
“It’s always horrific when things like this happen to people, but particularly for the child of a woman whose focus in life is caring for children,” said Ilana Turner, an actress who sought out Tinney to guide her through the birth of her daughters in March 2010 and February of this year.
Despite Tinney’s stress and anxiety, she never let on that anything was wrong. Turner didn’t find out Dylan was sick until Tinney’s mother launched a fundraising campaign at giveforward.com to help pay for Dylan’s care.
“The crazy thing was, at the time I didn’t know. She was doing her job taking care of other people,” Turner said.
The give forward campaign has so far raised $16,000, which Tinney said will defray about $30,000 in health insurance deductibles and copays that accumulated during Dylan’s treatment.
She also hopes to fund intravenous nutraceutical therapy and cannabis oil treatments not covered by her insurance.
“I was getting overwhelmed with all the bills. What makes it easier is living so close to the center, so I can make sure Dylan has everything he needs at home. When he’s not feeling good, it’s hard — especially when someone goes into labor,” said Tinney, adding that family, friends and neighbors have been a big help.
Dylan’s remaining tumor has not increased in size since his surgery in April, leaving both mother and son optimistic about the future.
Formerly an active skateboarder and swimmer, Dylan stopped attending Venice High School after falling ill during his freshman year, but he plans to take a GED in February in order to move on to college coursework in film and photography.
Chemotherapy treatments do, however, continue to slow Dylan down — leaving him nauseous and tired at best, he said. So far his hair has thinned but hasn’t all fallen out.
“My mom’s been through a lot more than me. She’s had to deal with the job and making sure I’m OK,” Dylan said. “She’s been with me through everything — doing chemo, MRIs, stuff like that.”
Turner said Tinney’s selflessness extends into the care she provides for other families as a midwife and through her Art of Birthing Center.
“She’s a fantastic human being with a very generous spirit, and she could use some help,” Turner said.
To follow updates on Dylan’s treatment, visit giveforward.com and search for “Dylan’s Brain Cancer Journey.”