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Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
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Gianna is a loving, silly, fun-loving 7-year-old little girl. She is tough and strong-willed and knows what she likes and doesn't like. She loves reading, sleepovers, playing with her friends, riding her bike and soccer. She takes ballet and she loves playing outside when the weather cooperates. She enjoys time with her older brother Joey and her younger sister Millie – they can play for hours when left to their own devices. Gianna began attending a new school a few months ago and she loves her teachers and telling stories about all her best friends at school. Gianna fatigues easily and has grown to love a YouTube channel called HobbyKids TV, which can keep her belly laughing for hours when she is too tired to play with her siblings.
Gianna fell ill on a Tuesday with belly troubles so her mother, Julie, was unable to send her to her last day of daycare the following day. The belly troubled remained through that Friday, and on that Friday evening, Julie realized Gianna’s color was off – she appeared a yellowish-white. Saturday morning, she developed a fever and Julie took her to the pediatrician, who obtained Gianna's hemoglobin levels, which were dangerously low. Gianna went to the ER and was subsequently transported by ambulance to Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital, where she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on June 30, 2014.
Gianna has endured lumbar punctures every 3 months, intravenous chemotherapy once a month, and oral chemotherapy daily at home since she started the maintenance phase of treatment on March 31, 2015. Prior to that, chemotherapy was more frequent and intense. Since September 2016, she has been out of treatment and continues to have normal bloodwork at bi-monthly check-ups.
Gianna’s family’s hopes and dreams for the future are that Gianna is able to grow and thrive into adulthood, doing whatever makes her happy. With funding for childhood cancer research like ALSF provides, and with increasing survival rates, her family is encouraged that the prospect of Gianna having a satisfying adulthood is possible.
Gianna is Julie’s hero because she looks and acts very much like any other 7-year-old little girl and has been able to endure chemotherapy one hour and play on a jungle gym the next. She has an incredibly powerful spirit and, when needed the most, is able to lift up the rest of her family using just the right words. She doesn't complain about how she feels, ever, which encourages her mother to appreciate life for every given second.
"Leukemia messed with the wrong chick!" Gianna, (while "working out" on the rowing machine)
Information submitted by Julie Andolina, Gianna’s Mother
Updated July 2018
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