By: Erin Weller
Kids come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their cancers. There are dozens of pediatric cancers, but leukemia account for nearly 28% of all childhood cancer diagnoses. Leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells – which are crucial to fighting off infections – and one of the most prevalent forms is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, but it is also Leukemia Awareness Month. Here are four leukemia heroes who would agree that all kids are worth fighting for:
Even after a B-cell ALL diagnosis at 2 years old, Benjamin is a joyful little boy.
His treatment began in 2019 and is projected to end in 2022, but the pandemic delayed one of the most intense phases of Ben’s treatment. Through it all, Ben remains resilient, crying one moment and smiling from ear to ear the next.
His family tries to live in the present, and Ben reminds them how to see the beauty in every situation. They are constantly in awe that, despite the limitations of his illness, Benjamin lives freely within those boundaries.
COVID-19 restrictions at the hospital made it difficult for everyone to fight alongside Ben physically, but the ALSF bandana-clad family is always supporting him in spirit!
Sophia may be the youngest of three, but she is also the strongest. When she was just 3 years old, persistent bruises and low energy caused her mom to send for some life-changing bloodwork. She needed three blood transfusions for low blood counts and received her diagnosis for ALL. Treatment was a struggle between a port placement, chemotherapy, lumbar punctures and more blood transfusions, but eventually, Sophia entered remission!
Although side-effects from chemo have impacted her learning abilities, Sophia has an individualized learning plan that has helped her keep up with her grade level. She’s come a long way since her initial diagnosis, and now Sophia is a crafty 10-year-old whose bravery never fails.
At 10 years old, Emerson is a fantastic girl who loves all things unicorns and rainbows. Even as she battles acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Emerson’s spunk never fades. She received her diagnosis in 2018 when persistent fevers – plus chest and back pain – sent her to the hospital. She went on to receive chemotherapy treatments that were set to end in November 2020.
Throughout her journey, Emerson has been courageous, and now, she’s ready to face the future with a heart full of love. Emerson inspires everyone she knows with her determination to keep dreaming through her hardships.
Omari might seem shy upon first impression, but the energy this teen brings to the football field gives him an unstoppable edge. He brings that same intensity to his fight against ALL. Omari’s diagnosis came during a trip to the emergency room after a workout left him vomiting with swollen lymph nodes. Since then, he’s been receiving chemotherapy treatments, but the pandemic has not made it easy.
Through these difficult times, ALSF was able to help Omari’s family with some travel expenses as they were financially impacted by the pandemic. Today, Omari is holding tightly to his dreams of attending college while playing the sport he loves.
Each of these heroes faces every day with immeasurable strength and the hope that someday they may live out their dreams free from cancer. Click here to read more about these brave heroes – or to let us know about a childhood cancer hero in your life.