“Take a deep breath, before you know it, the long days and nights will end and you will be able to enjoy normal life once again.” - Amanda, Lyla’s Mother

Weeks leading up to Lyla’s birthday, she was constantly sick. The doctor could not figure out what was wrong. She was losing weight and throwing up several times a day. She was also having stomach and shoulder pains. A week after Lyla’s fifth birthday, she was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Their family was devastated. They were hoping for results to help their daughter feel better, but they did not expect this outcome. During her treatment, Lyla endured many side effects from chemotherapy. In the midst of receiving chemotherapy, she also developed pancreatitis and was hospitalized for over a month with many additional side effects. Even through all of this her mother, Amanda, says, “She always has a smile on her face even when things are tough.” Lyla currently has many headaches and leg pain, but they are celebrating being in their final stretches of treatment.

Lyla is a fun loving and spunky little girl. She loves all things superhero and is her family’s little tomboy. She enjoys music and playing at her sister’s gymnastics gym. Cancer has definitely made Lyla stronger, but it has had many negative effects as well. Amanda says, “Lyla has become very strong willed and when things are not in her control, it is hard for her to reason.” Lyla’s cancer diagnosis has changed her family’s life in so many ways. Unfortunately, Lyla’s father lost his job in the middle of treatment and he was the sole financial provider for their family. The loss of his employment caused many financial stresses on top of Lyla’s treatment. This additional burden caused tension for the family, but there are ways it has made them closer. They have become a stronger family unit from this experience. Currently, Lyla is considered to be in maintenance from her cancer diagnosis. She still takes daily medications and goes to the hospital for check-ups regularly, but she has finished the bulk of the heavy treatment. Her mother is so proud of her and how she persevered. She has continued to push through the worst and make the best of her days! Lyla is currently homeschooled and hopes to become a gymnastics coach, oncologist or oncology nurse. She enjoys watching Fuller House or any superhero movie and her favorite color is blue.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL, is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in children and it represents approximately 25% of cancer diagnoses among children younger than 15 years of age. There are approximately 2,900 children diagnosed with ALL each year in the United States. Guidelines for cancer centers and their role in the treatment of pediatric patients with ALL entails a complicated risk assignment, intense therapies, a crucial need for rigorous supportive care, countless transfusions, cautious management of infectious complications, and emotional, financial, and developmental aid.

Dramatic improvements in survival have been achieved in children and adolescents with pediatric cancer. For ALL, the 5-year survival rate has increased over time from 60% to approximately 90% for children younger than 15 years. Childhood and adolescent cancer survivors require close follow-up, considering cancer therapy side effects may persist or develop months or years after treatment.

The treatment for girls diagnosed with ALL will take 1-2 years from the initial diagnosis. Treatment for boys takes 2-3 years of treatment from initial diagnosis. Amanda has offered to families just starting their battle this advice, “Take a deep breath, before you know it, the long days and nights will end and you will be able to enjoy normal life once again.” Our Runway to Hope team has had the privilege of helping Lyla’s family financially during their cancer journey and meeting precious Lyla in preparations for the 2017 Spring Fashion Soiree. Seeing her walk last year, Lyla was very shy, slightly terrified and was not sure what to expect. Lyla blossomed this year and was confident when she walked the stage. Runway to Hope team loves seeing the children find themselves during this journey. The children and their families are put through so much and seeing the children grow year after year, not only physical growth, but also becoming emotionally strong gives us the motivation to help these families keep fighting! We hope Lyla will join us for her third year walking at our 2019 Spring Fashion Soiree with even more confidence and growth.

Runway to Hope / 189 South Orange Avenue, Suite 1800 / Orlando, FL 32801 / 407.802.1544