"Alexis, what do you want to be when you grow up?" "I. Have. OPTIONS." Tears sprang to my eyes with the fierceness in her voice as she said those words. The world in front of me blurred as I struggled to find my voice again. I couldn't see through my viewfinder, so I set the camera down on my lap. "What options are your favorite ones to think about right now?" "Umm....let's see...", she pondered, expressive eyes looking all around. "I have SO many options! I could be a mountain climber, or an artist, or a swimming instructor, or a veterinarian! I love to paint! And actually.....I am already a mountain climber. I've climbed up Papa Mitch lots of times!" Her words, spoken with such conviction, such hope.... left me speechless, my heart squeezing tightly as I watched her flutter off in her princess gown, back to her twirling.
Her life hung in the balance for so very long.
And I'm not just talking about the chemo, radiation, surgery, and immunotherapy that required every ounce of her energy to fight for her life daily for a over a year.
I'm talking about relapse. At the time of her diagnosis, the statistics were beyond grim. If she survived the initial horror of neuroblastoma and treatment, the rate of relapse was high. "Approximately 50-60% of high-risk neuroblastoma patients will have a relapse. There is no cure for relapsed neuroblastoma." *Journal of Medicine, 2010.
Yes, her life hung in the balance for far longer than just the treatment. Hope for a future is a very precious thing. Every time she went in for scans her family held their breath, praying, begging, daring to hope as each scan came back clean. When she entered into remission this summer they could finally speak of her future in terms of years instead of months. Hope! Sweet, wonderful hope.
Take hold of those dreams, Alexis, and NEVER let go! Keep reaching for those stars and climbing those mountains. We can't wait to see how far you'll go! **September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness month** Dress by @annatriantcouture
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