Hear Cecilia's story,
as featured on KS95 For Kids.
Cecilia was diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia (ALL) in June 2009 when she was 7 years old.
ALL is the most common form of childhood cancer, with a very high cure rate - nearly 90 percent. However, Cecilia's road was not as smooth as most of her peers who have ALL, often finding herself as the "1 out of 10" for whom the standard chemotherapy treatments weren't successful. She had to endure two rounds of chemotherapy, after the first round failed to put her leukemia into remission.
Cecilia's dad Mark was her primary caregiver during her in-patient treatment at the hospital. It was evident from the Caringbridge journal Mark kept during Cecilia's treatment that her journey was filled with anxiety and frustration - but through it all, he kept his sense of humor. He developed a great rapport with the doctors caring for Cecilia, challenging them to find better solutions for his daughter.
During her second round of chemotherapy, in the fall of 2009, Cecilia received a knitting machine to help pass the long days in the hospital. Mark thought his daughter might be working on a hat for him, but instead when he asked Cecilia who the hats were for, she said "I am making hats for the kids at the hospital that might lose their hair because of their cancer." His admiration for his daughter's strength and kindness, despite her situation continues to inspire him. In one instance, he remarked that she continues to laugh and do the things she loves, despite the intensity of her treatment, "She inspires me, makes me proud, and keeps me going."
When doctors told the family that a bone marrow transplant (BMT) would be her best chance for survival, they tested all of the siblings and discovered that her younger brother, Silvio, was a perfect donor match. In January of this year, Cecilia received the life-saving cells from her brother and began her long and difficult BMT journey. From kidney failure to persistant fevers to a diabetic reaction and weeks in the ICU, Cecilia has defeated each challenge she faced.
Their family life also faced challenges, with dad and Cecilia away from home, mom and grandma had to step in to help take care of Cecilia's siblings. After nearly two months in the hospital after her transplant, Mark commented, "I know the nurses better than I know my family right now." As is the case for most patients, Cecilia suffered a number of setbacks during her BMT recovery, and she continues to wear braces on her legs as she builds up her leg strength.
On August 30, Cecilia started third grade with her class - a dream come true and her return to "normal".