Meet our young warriors

Meet Aryia – Neuroblastoma Warrior

“The NCCS has freed our minds of one less expense we need to worry about. We are so thankful for them,” said Aryia's mom.

It was the beginning of summer and Aryia was a normal, energetic 4 year-old who played outside every day and went to gymnastics every week. But, as the summer progressed, Aryia began experiencing mysterious stomach pains. At first, she tried to ignore them and keep playing, but when they became unbearable, her mother, Samantha, took her to the pediatrician. After an examination, the doctor concluded it was constipation. She prescribed a laxative and sent them on their way. Weeks went by and Aryia showed no signs of improvement. Her mother knew something else had to be causing her daughter so much pain and took her to the emergency room where she underwent x-rays, blood work and urine tests. When all of the results came back negative, Aryia and Samantha were sent home, yet again, with more questions than answers. When Aryia continued to complain to her mom that her tummy really hurt, Samantha brought her back to the emergency room, this time demanding an ultrasound. Thankfully, Samantha’s “mother’s intuition” saved her daughter’s life. Doctors found a tumor in Aryia’s abdomen. “I never expected to be thrown into the cancer world. Our hearts dropped,” said Samantha.

Aryia was immediately rushed to the nearest children’s hospital – three hours from their home – to begin treatment. Further scans revealed that the tumor was wrapped around her kidney and artery, which explained her excruciating pain. She endured six rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor enough to have it surgically removed. Samantha was elated to learn the chemotherapy worked and Aryia’s operation was successful. Unfortunately her treatment did not end there. She still needed months of radiation, stem cell transplants, and immunotherapy, and struggled with multiple side effects through it all.

Aryia needed to be seen multiple times every week and the cost of getting her to treatment quickly mounted. Samantha discovered the NCCS and reached out for help getting her daughter to life-saving treatment. The organization ensured Aryia made it to her appointments and helped with other emergency expenses. “The NCCS has freed our minds of one less expense we need to worry about. We are so thankful for them,” said Samantha.

Samantha says that despite the challenges presented to her daughter, Aryia is getting back to her playful self. This brave girl is the definition of strength and resilience. When asked what the hardest part of her treatment was, she said it was being far away from her little brother!