Caiah was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) three days after her 7th birthday in December of 2008. As Caiah's mom Sherae remembers, "Childhood cancer was non-existent in my world, in my life. To be honest I don't think I ever thought twice about it. I don't think I ever noticed a fundraiser or campaign or even hospital sign. It just hit us and it hit us hard."
No family ever anticipates a diagnosis of cancer in their children. As a mother Sherae questioned why this was happening and what she did wrong or what – if anything – she could have done to prevent it. She could hardly imagine the thought of losing the love of her life - her oldest daughter, Caiah.
ALL is the most common form of cancer in children. 30 years ago, it was a death sentence, but thanks to research, nearly 80 percent of children diagnosed with leukemia will survive. Although the odds are favorable, for parents like Sherae, cancer is cancer. Caiah was in the hospital for the first two weeks of treatment, and was able to receive most of the chemotherapy through an out-patient program. Sherae remembers the first few months being very hard on Caiah and they spent nearly three days per week in the hospital to help make Caiah more comfortable – which was not part of their original treatment plan. Nothing about the cancer experience is predictable.
Caiah was lucky not only to have the incredible support of her family, but also her classmates. Students in her first grade class at Forest Hills Elementary held a fundraiser called, "Coins for Caiah", to raise money for Caiah's family to help with medical bills and other expenses.
Through the ups and downs of treatment, the family is thrilled that Caiah remains cancer-free. Her family continues to support cancer research so that other children have the same chance that Caiah has had. They believe that every child should have the same chance to play soccer, dance and fulfill their life-long dreams. Sherae feels thankful she experienced the miracle of hearing that her child is cancer-free, and wants other parents to hear the same.
Caiah is now a healthy and happy 9-year-old, anxious to start 4th grade this fall. She loves to sing - even writes her own music - and she frequently organizes singing and modeling competitions with her younger sisters.