Meet Aria – Leukemia Warrior
“Even though the road ahead is still long and could have bumps along the way, we know that we are well supported by many people, including the NCCS, who have helped us in ways that we didn’t think that we needed help.”
Eight-year-old Aria was familiar with bone pain. In August of 2022, the active girl broke her arm. And just a month later, she woke up in excruciating pain, claiming it felt like someone was squeezing her legs. As most parents might do, Aria’s parents assumed the pain was a leg cramp or growing pains.
But the pain continued.
Aria’s parents began to realize the mysterious pain was more than growing pains, but they struggled to find a doctor who would investigate further. They made multiple trips to the emergency room and her pediatrician. The recommended specialist didn’t have availability until March of 2023. Finally – the family was able to make an appointment with a rheumatologist.
Aria’s parents felt like they were finally in the right hands. “Her doctor changed our lives forever. He took the time to look at Aria’s chart and her labs and put all the evidence together to say, ‘Yes, there is something wrong, and we’re going to find out what it is!’” recalled Aria’s mother, Jaclyn.
On November 9, 2022 – four months after Aria’s pain began – she was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. According to the National Institute of Health, bone pain can occur in leukemia patients when many abnormal white blood cells gather in the bone marrow.
“We were in complete shock,” said Jaclyn. “We knew that this wasn’t gonna be an easy road, and we knew we had to stay positive for our daughter, even though it was really rough at times.”
When Aria began treatment, she started strong, hitting appropriate milestones and staying positive. But in January of 2023, she became very ill. Because of her weakened immune system, her body could not fight infections.
Her mother explained, “She landed in the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) for a week or so and was in the hospital for about a month. … Our little fighter bounced back and has been doing as best as we could ask. She has excelled further than we could have imagined, and she is still fighting.”
Finding the New Normal
Aria is one of four children. Her siblings have also had to adjust to this new reality: their parents traveling back and forth from the hospital at least twice weekly, less one-on-one time from mom and dad, and being worried and confused about their sister’s health. It’s a lot to handle, but they have been helpful and supportive throughout the journey.
Jaclyn is grateful for the support her family has received. “Even though the road ahead is still long and could have bumps along the way, we know that we are well supported by many people, including the NCCS, who have helped us in ways that we didn’t think that we needed help,” she said. “The NCCS has helped when we needed groceries or gas or even if it was just to pay a bill.”
The family has received financial assistance through the NCCS’s Transportation Assistance Fund and the Emergency Assistance Fund. The NCCS will continue to support Aria’s family throughout her cancer journey – because no family should go through childhood cancer alone.™