St. Baldrick’s Ambassadors represent the wide diversity of kids diagnosed with childhood cancers. Their stories highlight the importance of supporting the best childhood cancer research so all kids diagnosed can live long, healthy, productive and happy lives.
But every child is so much more than a cancer diagnosis. Each has their own unique personalities, gifts, and talents. Read on to learn more about these remarkable kids.
Mia in hospital during chemotherapy treatment.
Mia is no ordinary girl, she is EXTRA-ordinary! This spunky, fun-loving, energetic kindergartener is full of imagination.
In January 2022, a 12 cm tumor was found on Mia’s liver. The diagnosis: undifferentiated embryonal sarcoma of the liver. Mia spent four months in the hospital, enduring chemotherapy and surgery to remove 75% of the right lobe of her liver. Unfortunately, her liver didn’t regenerate as expected so her liver function is limited to her left lobe. Although Mia is considered cancer free, because of the high relapse rate for her cancer, she will be monitored with scans every 3 months to check for recurrence over the next 10 years.
But Mia is not wasting any more time being sick! According to her mom, she is back to being the energetic, fun-loving little girl she was before cancer. Spending time with family and friends tops her favorite-thing-to-do list, as her mom describes Mia as a “very social kid.” Not the least bit camera shy, Mia loves to strike a pose, sing and dance and is always up for making TikTok videos. A fashionista at heart, she loves to dress up, but her best “accessory” is her charismatic smile. After the long absence, Mia was also thrilled to be able to get back into gymnastics.
Mia’s story is far from over.
Jaron with his dog, Chloe.
Jaron was only 23 months old when a large tumor developed under his right eye. After numerous tests and a biopsy, he was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Due to a positive minimal residual disease test in the induction phase, he was placed on the most aggressive of treatments for this disease due to the high-risk of relapse. Jaron’s mom, Jessica said, “The 3 1/2 years of treatment were difficult and intense, but he remained courageous throughout it.” Cancer free today, Jaron is 10 years in remission and attends the survivorship clinic annually to monitor late effects. He is in middle school, a Boy Scout and loves to travel (most recently to Spain, Brazil, and Peru).
Jaron enjoys playing football with his friends and, of course, making YouTube videos. (He has over 29,000 followers on his YouTube channel!) His heroes are his mom and dad. His dog, Chloe, is his buddy, and his favorite foods are pizza and burgers. Favorite family times include trips, going to water parks, and celebrating Jaron’s remission date.
He has this message for anyone thinking about getting involved in St. Baldrick’s: “You really should because most of the funding helps kids with cancer and too many kids don’t survive.”
Jaron is a kid with a mission and a message to make an impact for kids with cancer.
“Fierce Face” Martha.
Martha lived for her family and cherished the close and sacred bonds they shared. Forever remembered for her compassionate soul, courageous spirit, creative talent, inquisitive mind and irreverent sense of humor, Martha had a unique and authentic way of bringing joy to everyone who knew her.
She held strong convictions about what it means to be a good person, believing in equity for all, regardless of one’s gender identity, sexual orientation, or race. Martha was also passionate about learning and education. From a very early age, Martha demonstrated incredible creative abilities and remained a lifelong artist.
Martha loved delicious food and physical activity. Whether it was snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, yoga, or standup paddleboarding, she lived for fun and adventure. Martha also had a passion for traveling to both new and familiar destinations. She was a four-year member and captain of the Boulder High School Mountain Bike Team, and her coaches, teammates, and the entire local mountain bike community occupied a special place in Martha’s life journey. She was well-known for her dedication to training, riding, and finishing every race, despite her health challenges.
Diagnosed with metastatic Ewing sarcoma when she was 13, Martha faced her cancer diagnosis and the next seven years of treatment with remarkable courage and her trademark sense of humor. She dedicated much of her time and energy during those years to the effort to find better treatment options and a cure for other young people like herself. Martha’s legacy is one of strength, courage, and love.
Jonah is a rare gift!
He has every reason to be discouraged, defeated and even angry because of the impact childhood cancer has had on his life. But when you meet this survivor, you can see that childhood cancer doesn’t define him and you can’t deny that he, himself, is a gift.
When Jonah was 4 years old, bouts of vomiting and nausea resulted in the diagnosis of an allergenic condition of the esophagus. Medications and diet changes did not help. Double vision and episodes of “word salad” prompted an emergency MRI where a plum-sized tumor was discovered on Jonah’s brain. It was medulloblastoma, the most common form of pediatric brain cancer. Although Jonah is 7 years out of treatment, the long-term effects are both physically and emotionally devastating.
Jonah’s favorite things include time with his family, Oreos, crispy chicken sandwiches, Marvel and Minions movies, traveling, Harry Potter, the color blue, all things camo and tie dye, pool time, and his heroes, who happen to be…yep, his family. He loves playing games (especially card games) and telling jokes or stories to make others laugh. A true extrovert, Jonah enjoys acting in his church’s productions, starring kids with special needs.
The best gifts can change us. After meeting Jonah and seeing how he lives his life, no one can remain the same. Watching Jonah shine makes the world a little brighter and makes the days a little more hope filled.
At 16 years old, Hanna was an active teen with friends, school and soccer taking centerstage in her life. Then everything changed. A severe pain in her right hip, thought to be a sports injury, didn’t improve with physical therapy. An MRI revealed a grapefruit sized tumor in her hip. The diagnosis was osteosarcoma or bone cancer.
Hanna immediately began a 10-round protocol of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, but it was unsuccessful. Doctors said a hemipelvectomy amputation—removal of her leg, hip, and half of her pelvis—was her best option for survival. After 10 rounds of chemo, a 23-hour surgery, followed by 17 more rounds of chemotherapy and months of physical therapy, Hanna was cancer free.
At her 10-year check-up, Hanna was given the “all clear.” But it came with a hiccup. Testing revealed she had a rare disorder called Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. She carries a gene mutation which puts her at risk to develop other cancers, particularly breast cancer. It was advised Hanna get a double mastectomy to avert that risk and be on a strict screening protocol thereafter.
In the years since her diagnosis, Hanna married her soulmate, completed her master’s degree, launched a full-time marketing career, adopted a sweet three-legged German Shepherd named Frankie, and models for brands to help them be more inclusive in their campaigns.
Hanna shares that her desire to succeed and willingness to work hard has enabled her to not only fight cancer but to rise above its ensuing challenges. In her own words, she says “overall…I’m just a really happy human being who is so grateful to be here.”
Throughout the year, you’ll be hearing more from these kids and their families and continue to be inspired by their stories. #ResearchIsHope for all kids with cancer. Donate today and help #GiveKidsALifetime they deserve.
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