Honored Kid

Clarissa H.

Age 14
Clarissa H. Kid Photo

Location

Evart, MI, US

Diagnosis

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)

Date of Diagnosis

September 2015

Status

In treatment

Treated At

Helen Devos Children's Hospital

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My Story

Thank you for supporting me and the more than 300,000 kids worldwide who will be diagnosed with cancer this year. By sharing the gifts of your time, talent and money with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, you're supporting research to give all kids with cancer a better chance for a cure. On the morning of Sept 4, 2015, Clarissa collapsed on our living room floor, and fearing seizures we took her to the Helen Devos emergency room. Once there we were re-assured that our fears were legitimate, but that seizures were manageable and they began to prep us for going home, with a referral to neurology. Then the blood work came back. With a face as white as snow the doctor came to our room and said the words we never imagined and every parent fears: "it's not good, it's really bad, it's cancer". Clarissa was 7 years old at the time. In the following days we walked like zombies through the hospital halls, as our baby girl lay in a hospital bed in the PICU. We found out that she was collapsing not because of seizures, but because her red blood count was less than 3, when it should be between 10-12. And her white count, which should be around 10,000 reached 511,000. We didn't know what to think, what to expect or what to feel. We were told they had viable treatments for TCell Leukemia, but any chance less than 100% is a terrifying number for a parent. With trembling hands and tearful eyes we watched as her counts came back everyday. We waited, and we prayed. After 9 days in the PICU we were moved to the oncology floor, and we were introduced to the world of chemotherapy. We signed every permission, regardless of side effects or future problems because our daughters life was hanging in the balance. And at her 29 day bone marrow biopsy we got fantastic news: zero presence of cancer. But that is not the end of her fight, it is really just the beginning. Kids with Leukemia require 2 to 3 years of further treatment with chemotherapy. We spent the months from Christmas through February at the hospital every 2 weeks as they poured Methotrexate into her body and watched as it caused horrible mouth sores and intestinal issues. We will take any treatment available if it will save her life. And it has, and it is. But our hope is for a future where there are better treatment options that aren't so devastating and uncomfortable. And all of the time we have spent on the oncology floor has allowed us to meet some amazing kids and families with stories only like ours because they contain the word cancer. We know now that there are kids out there, fighting hard to beat cancer. Every. Single. Day. Cancer doesn't take a holiday, it doesn't care who you are or who your child is. Our greatest wish is that someday there will be no more cancer deaths. No more families saying goodbye to their children, taken away by this awful disease. Clarissa has a long way to go. And every blood test reveals the anxiety that lives in my chest, because a relapse is our biggest fear. But she is the bravest, strongest little girl you will ever meet. She faces everything with a smile and an attitude of knowing this is just one more step toward being forever cured. She has gone through things that would destroy many adults, and she does not complain. She is kind and beautiful and she deserves a cure. They all do.

The Childhood Cancer Ripple Effect

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