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Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
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March 13, 2009, is a day that will be etched in our family’s memory forever. That was the day we learned that our daughter, Julia, had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Julia had started running unexplained fevers in December of 2008. Our doctors had assumed Julia had a virus, but after blood work revealed lowering blood counts and her fevers kept reoccurring, we were referred to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston. On March 12 Julia had become so anemic that we went to Egleston on an emergency basis. We arrived around 10PM and around 3AM we were staring at the oncologist on call, trying our best to absorb every word he said and at the same time trying to keep our emotions held back. How could this be happening to our little girl? Will she survive? How do we explain this to her? How do we keep her from seeing our fear? To this day, we still have to remind ourselves that this is real, not a nightmare. Learning your child has cancer, a life threatening disease, is devastating. You want to take your child’s place so badly, but everything is out of your control. Life as you previously knew it…schedules, jobs, meetings, etc…comes to an immediate halt. Nothing matters more than being with your child. For our family and so many others, we had to learn to turn it all over to our Heavenly Father. Without Him, Julia’s cancer journey would be unbearable.
Julia’s treatment started on March 16, 2009, and is scheduled to end July, 2011. Julia is 9-years-old and is in the 4th grade at Brookwood School in Thomasville, GA. Julia loves to read, ride horses, and fish. She loves the beach and spending time with her dog, “Stanley.” She is an excellent student and has been so brave throughout her treatment. Julia’s courage has been so inspirational and amazing and her smile has remained throughout. Losing all her beautiful curls didn’t bother Julia at all, and now we are enjoying watching her hair grow back. Julia receives her chemotherapy treatments at the clinic in the Aflac Cancer Center at Egleston. We are counting down the months and plan on having a big celebration next July, when her treatment ends.
ALL has a cure rate of around 80-85%, and Julia is in a study which hopes to improve that cure rate by another 6%. Forty years ago the cure rate for ALL was only 15-20%. This improvement in the cure rate has thankfully occurred because of past donations to organizations such as ALSF and countless hours of research. We are so appreciative of all the efforts that have gone in to making the cure rate what it is today. There are many childhood cancers with much lesser cure rates. We still lose many children to these horrible diseases. We can’t stop giving and fighting for our children until all cancer cure rates reach 100%! And just maybe one day, we can learn how to stop cancer before it starts. Prior to Julia’s diagnosis, we were oblivious to childhood cancer. We had heard of children with cancer, but it was much more comfortable to look the other way or just not think about it. We won’t look the other way any longer! Our family is committed to doing whatever we can to help raise awareness of childhood cancer and help raise money to find a cure. Please join us by giving to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Your donations can make a difference in all of our children’s futures.
Written by Jeff & Sharon Johnson, Julia's Parents
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