Lula Coe

Ten Year old Lula Coe has faced more in the past two years than most people face in their lifetime.  In December of 2011 she was diagnosed with Wilms’ Tumor.

The cancer sent Lula in and out of the hospital for countless surgeries and chemotherapy treatments.

One thing that helps Lula through her struggles on a daily basis is the 1982 film The Last Unicorn.

“One of the things that [Lula and her mother] watched in the hospital, the hours and hours they spent in the hospital was The Last Unicorn; it always went with them, “Lula’s stepfather Sean Smith said.

“It’s a movie we put on to calm her, relax her, to get her to calm down, she usually falls asleep half way through, she did tonight too, but she wakes up right at the end and gets to see the end every time. One of her favorites,” Smith said.

The movie was made to model the 1968 fantasy novel written by Peter S. Beagle, who also wrote the script for the film. The book was a favorite of Lula’s mother growing up.

The family reached out to Beagle, who made plans to visit Boise in January during his Last Unicorn tour.

“Today was supposed to be our day off,” Beagle said. “Then we got word from Lula’s mother that the situation was even more serious than we thought.”

On Wednesday, Lula had to undergo emergency surgery to remove fluid from around her heart. “She was home Thursday and that’s when we learned the time frame we had been looking at had been dramatically shortened,” Smith said.

Prior to the emergency surgery Beagle planned to see Lula as soon as possible.”Soon got a lot sooner yesterday, so we just determined, ‘So much for days off,’ and drove all night.”

Beagle was humbled to take the trip for a special screening of The Last Unicorn at Edwards Theater in Boise, followed by a book signing at Rediscovered Books.

“I’m literally speechless, that’s why I’m stumbling over this. There’s nothing to say, I’m just grateful,” Beagle said. “I’d watch the movie, and watch her, watch the movie; my head just went back and forth.”

“It’s certainly her favorite film, she’s watched it over and over, she’s been in the hospital and there are times I gather that the only thing that’s lifted her spirit or made her smile is to watch that film one more time,” Beagle said.

To say the least, the last two years has been an emotional rollercoaster for Lula, her parents, and her three brothers.

“It’s been a waiting game, over and over again,” Smith said. “We get our hope up and we think that maybe we’re on top of it and you’ve just got to wait for the next scan, then the next scan comes back and the cancer had moved or it had changed.”

When Beagle received a call from Lula’s mother, he said there was no question he would make it to Boise. “Lula might have no more than three weeks and there wasn’t any time to dither about it,” Beagle said. “With this there was no choice, it never came up as a choice, and we just tried to figure out how we could possibly get here.”

Lula’s family wants parents to become aware of Wilms’ tumor. Smith says it has a 90% recovery rate if detected early enough. All that’s needed is a kidney x-ray to detect any abnormalities.

There is a donation fund set up for Lula and her family. They plan to have a Christmas Bash for Lula  on Tuesday, November 26 at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Garden City.


Karen Lehr