On a Wednesday in the autumn of 2017, María Isabella’s mom noticed her daughter was pale, especially around her lips. Who could imagine such a small detail would signal complete upheaval for this family of five?
Just a few days later, following tests, María Isabella’s doctor’s office referred her to a hematologist-oncologist, who confirmed she had leukemia.
When the oncologist confirmed it was cancer, I had a difficult time accepting it. In all honesty, I still have a hard time accepting the fact. I couldn’t understand anything at that moment. You really don’t know what issues deserve your full attention until you face a situation like this.
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Her doctors recommended St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for her care.
“They told us it was the best choice for María Isabella’s quality of life,” said Ela.
So, the family followed the referral and traveled from Honduras to St. Jude.
“Having a child with cancer means losing control. I can prevent my child from getting a cold, but I cannot prevent her from having cancer. When we found out we were coming to St. Jude, a light came back on in my life. It gave me back the confidence that I had lost. From the moment that we walked through the doors of St. Jude for the first time, I knew we were at the right place.”
Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to more than 80% since it opened in 1962.
And in the same amount of time, St. Jude has been instrumental in increasing survival rates for María Isabella’s form of cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, from 4% to 94%.
María Isabella is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment that will last for nearly 3 years in total. She’s only 3 years old right now, with more than a year of cancer treatment still to get through.
But get through it she does.
“She has a strong personality and can be pretty bossy at times,” said Ela. She’s also sweet and playful, and loves singing and dancing and “reading” books to her stuffed animals and her dolls before putting them to bed each night.
My dream for my daughter is that she will grow up and give back for everything she’s receiving now.
Help our families focus on their sick child, not medical bills.
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