Strength is in the soul
I was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) on April 29, 2015. It all started with a failed pacer test at school, pain in my wrist and headaches, and ended with the words “you have cancer.” I was immediately taken to Texas Children’s Hospital from my Texas Children’s pediatrician, Dr. Anita Jimenez Belinoski. My life and my family’s lives forever changed that day. I was immediately taken out of school, competitive volleyball and isolated from my best friends for a very difficult and scary long road ahead. Through my illness, I have had 3 PICC lines, surgery to put in a port and surgery to remove it, uncountable IVs, blood transfusions, platelet transfusions countless spinal taps, many adverse events to multiple chemo medications, warnings of a feeding tube, a collapsed lung from pleural effusion, emergency surgery to insert a chest tube, numerous fevers ending in multiple nights spent in the ER and depression.
One in 285 children will be diagnosed with cancer by the time they are 20 years old. I could list seven children who are in my surrounding neighborhoods. They are true heroes to me. Seven children die from cancer every day and more needs to be done. Treatment for us is very limited and brutal. Cancer is a beast. It isn’t fair, we need a cure. Not tomorrow or next month, now! So many kids aren’t able to live a full normal life. Siblings lose their best friends. When I was in my darkest moments, in stepped Anita Kruse with Purple Songs Can Fly. She asked me about writing a song about my cancer battle thus far. We sat down one day and just discussed what all I had been through, who had been there for me, how losing my hair and being so sick had changed my life. However, I found beauty in the solace of the song we were collaborating on and it started opening my eyes to the kindness that was surrounding me: my mom and little brother from every angle of our lives from here at Texas Children’s, our friends, our schools and our community. It was an eye-opening experience to write it out; how true beauty, if you allow it, can be filtered through darkness. To tell how I have gone from being so gravely ill into a full flown fighter and finding beauty in everything. It applied to so many facets of my life. We discussed making a video of it and bringing awareness to the Texas Children’s West Campus. Because of all of my complications, West Campus has become our second home. It’s small and quaint. I’ve become a regular…and we feel like family. Everywhere we walk in this hospital my mom knows everyone. She never meets a stranger. We feel safe and comfortable here at Texas Children’s.
Anita collaborated with Anne Hill, director of the Little Couple, and they brought in a professional team to film a video of my song into a story, painting a picture of those here at Texas Children’s who have been with me every step of the way. It’s heartwarming to see how far I have come despite all my adverse events and setbacks. I am fascinated with the synchronicity of every professional here and how they collaborate to truly improve the quality of children’s and family’s lives. Texas Children’s West Campus has saved my life. Anne and Anita were able to capture a glimpse of the amazing folks in a fun, moving video that by far exceeded my expectations.
Having leukemia has been a set back and was not in my plan. It’s been a painful journey but my faith in God and everyone placed in our path has made an influence in how we see things and others. I’ve been blessed to be exposed to so many intelligent, strong, caring women and men who do what they do for the greater good of children. This has changed me and my family. It has changed the course of my life! Thank you Anne and Anita for putting a song back in my heart … we are forever indebted to you both.