When Dani was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 13, one of the things she was most nervous about was losing her hair as a side effect of her chemo treatments. After Dani’s dad helped her shaver her head, she realized she liked rocking a bald head. Yolonda, Dani’s mom, described this moment as a free experience – like a weight was lifted off her daughter’s shoulders. Throughout her time at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s, this artistic 15-year-old also found comfort in drawing to help her take her mind off treatment.
Kaleb was diagnosed with sickle cell disease after experiencing his first pain crisis at just 9 months old. In the 15 years since, he has been admitted to the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s for long periods of time for chronic pain, endured countless blood transfusions, and underwent numerous surgeries. Despite it all, Kaleb’s mom notes that her son has maintained a positive spirit, and today Kaleb is a thriving high school student.
In March of 2020 while the world came to a halt, Kellen began experiencing severe stomach-related illnesses that lasted for over a month, which let his parents to seek answers at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. During an emergency appendectomy at Children’s, Kellen’s care team discovered that he had stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Mature B-Cell Lymphoma. After spending the majority of 2020 in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy treatment, Kellen is in remission. As the active 10-year-old has been able to get back on the soccer field and will enter the 5th grade in the fall, his family has redefined what gratitude means to them.
After Lexy fell during gym class, she began experiencing pain in her arm. Thinking her daughter may have torn her rotator cuff, Lexy’s mom took her to the pediatrician who referred the family to the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s where additional testing soon revealed that she had osteosarcoma. It was a shocking diagnosis for her parents as Lexy had been perfectly healthy and was a passionate dancer. Though Lexy’s medical journey is ongoing, her mom says she is slowly getting back to what she loves most – performing. Dance has been therapeutic for Lexy, and during her first dance competition back, her mom remembers Lexy crying at the end, saying, “today has been a perfect day.”
At age 12, Zeke was admitted into the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s after a virus infiltrated his liver, spleen, and bone marrow. Eventually, he was unable to produce blood cells. Zeke was diagnosed with Viral Hepatitis induced Aplastic Anemia and placed in a year-long immunosuppressant treatment that restarted his entire immune system. In 2019, Zeke began the final stages of treatment completion and ran his first marathon with his dad to raise money for Children’s.
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