8 years old
acute lymphoblastic leukemia
Laila is overcoming the biggest challenge of her life right now, but in many ways, she’s a normal little girl. “She’s very caring,” said Laila’s mother, Danielle. “She’s a great big sister to her little brother. She helps him with everything and tries to show him new things.”
Laila picks the brightest blue from her crayon box to color the sky for her picture. Her mother looks at her daughter and pauses.
“I’m just, I’m totally thankful for St. Jude, because it wasn’t for them, she may not be with us today.”
Laila clutches her crayon, imagines a perfect world and makes it come alive on paper. "She’s always been a creative child," Danielle says. In Laila’s perfect world, there would be no cancer.
In April 2013, Laila’s back began to hurt. “You’d tell her to go put her pajamas on, and she’d cry,” says Danielle. “You’d tell her to brush her teeth, and she’d cry.” Her parents assumed it was growing pains. But soon she felt tired all the time, and her skin turned dramatically pale.
One day, within hours, her slight temperature shot up to 104 degrees, and she couldn’t walk. Her parents rushed her to the urgent care clinic, which ran numerous tests, including blood work.
“When he got those results back, he said the numbers just screamed that something was wrong,” says Danielle. The family was referred to St. Jude. Within 24 hours, Laila was found to be suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. “It was lightning quick,” says Danielle, and Laila began a chemotherapy treatment plan at St. Jude.
Laila’s parents learned they would never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. “If we had to pay for all her medication and everything out of pocket, it would be financially devastating for our family,” says Danielle.
Despite the medical treatment, St. Jude is a happy place Laila likes to visit. “Everybody is upbeat, gives her high fives, asks her how her day is going and tells her that she’s beautiful,” says Danielle.
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