A cancer diagnosis is overwhelming. It’s unexpected, and with so many unknowns, difficult to accept. Little Vaylah, at just 6 years old, knows this all too well. Vaylah was taken to the emergency room after experiencing pain in her side and a fever. Test after test resulted in a diagnosis of Wilm’s tumor in July of 2021. With a curious, open heart and determined spirit, Vaylah was the picture of bravery and strength during her appointments. In the beginning, she was afraid of needles but over time learned what to expect and how to manage her fear. In many ways, humor was her best medicine. Vaylah would share her latest joke with the medical staff as they began their daily procedures. It made her know that in that moment, she was okay.
Vaylah’s super powers to remain calm and brave were shared, like gifts, throughout the hospital. This empathic little girl would sit with other patients who may be waiting alone, and befriend them right away. If someone was upset, she would try to make them laugh. If they were scared, she would share one of her secret tricks: ‘close your eyes, and imagine I’m right there with you.’ Her mom, Jessica, shares that Vaylah has the biggest heart when it comes to others, always making sure they’re taken care of. Her light shines for everyone she meets.
Tenacity is another of Vaylah’s super powers. Starting school while undergoing treatment, there were understandably times that she had to take breaks from the pace of the day. But Vaylah didn’t let this slow her down. In fact, testing has shown that she is right on track with her classmates academically, if not even ahead of the learning curve. She enjoys school and interacting with her friends.
Vaylah gained confidence in herself as she faced and conquered cancer. She’s sure of herself. She shares her story to help others. When it was time to ‘ring the bell,’ a moment her family had been waiting for since the moment of her diagnosis, her strength and bravery echoed through the hospital halls. Once that bell rang, Elsa from Frozen was right there waiting to congratulate and celebrate her, making the experience even more magical.
Vaylah teaches us an important lesson that the super powers in each of us can help comfort, inspire and strengthen everyone on our path.
Jon-Wesley, age 5, started limping and stopped walking in March of 2021. After many doctors’ appointments and testing, he was diagnosed with B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This diagnosis led to a lengthy hospital stay, many medications and difficult treatments.
Jon-Wesley’s life became one of frequent hospital stays, quarantines and isolation. His family was incredibly afraid they were going to lose him. His mom, Quanesha, recalls her resilience growing weary, asking doctors every day during rounds, “Can I bring my baby home?” and hearing the same responses of uncertainty weighed heavily on her spirit. No matter the fear and uncertainty, Jon-Wesley’s family was simply amazed at how strong their little boy remained.
With all odds against him, Jon-Wesley overcame life inside the hospital walls and is now living life as a playful, smiling boy full of laughter. He taught himself how to walk again. Quanesha said with admiration that he always was, and still is, such a happy kid. He has avoided negativity throughout his entire treatment process by learning from every twist and turn. He has always been quick to put a smile on his face and have a positive attitude. Jon-Wesley uses his cancer diagnosis as a reminder to be kind and compassionate. While at camp, he chose to sit out of water activities because a friend was not feeling well and he did not want her to sit alone. He wants to make sure everyone feels included and has a smile on their face.
Jon-Wesley’s positive attitude is a true superpower. He fought cancer with this superpower and, against all odds, is victorious.
To read more inspiring stories of childhood cancer survivors, visit our Young Warriors Page.