When a child has cancer, they cling to anything that can help them get through the ordeal. For four little girls, it was their friendship that kept them and their families going while all four of the kids battled cancer. And now, the girls are reuniting to celebrate being cancer-free.
McKinley, Chloe, Ava, and Lauren met while they were patients at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Florida.
Being treated for cancer is rough at any age but these girls experienced it while they were only 3 and 4 years old.
For the girls and their families, it was about finding friends who were going through the same thing.
Shawna Glynn, Lauren’s mom, said it started when the girls noticed they didn’t have any hair, a side effect of their cancer treatments.
“She’s 3 years old and doesn’t have any hair, but all of her friends in the hospital look the same way so, it kind of gave her some normalcy,” Glynn said.
From there, the girls learned they had something else in common. As they put it, their blood was sick. Three of the four girls had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The fourth, Chloe, was suffering from an unusual form of lung cancer.
The girls quickly struck up a friendship.
But their camaraderie was also a source of strength for their parents.
“It was just always a breath of fresh air to see a familiar face and to know that she wasn’t alone in this,” said Karen Moore, McKinley’s mom. “Just having other moms to relate to has been phenomenal. Just to have other people going through it at the same time as us.”
Now, each of the little girls has recovered and is perfectly healthy again.
Lauren was the last to enter remission.
“We’re done,” Glynn said. “She just rang the bell to signify that she has completed her treatment… She’s going into kindergarten on Monday. They have just come so far, all of them.”
To celebrate the end of their treatments, the little girls reunited at the hospital to take a very special photoshoot.
For everyone involved, including their families and nurses, it was an emotional experience.
“They were all on active treatment the first time we did this,” said Ava’s mom, Alyssa Luciano. “It’s amazing to see how far they’ve come from being bald little babies.”
Now, the girls looked healthy and vibrant as they spun in their gold tutus. Their hair has grown back and they’re looking forward to a happy and normal childhood.
When they returned for their treatment, they were all between the ages of 4 and 5.
They’re getting ready to start school without the burden of being held back by illness.
Childhood cancer is fairly rare, with only about one in 330 children getting a diagnosis between the ages of 1 and 19. These girls and their families lived a truly frightening and difficult experience. But their bond got them through the scariest times. Now, they’ve got their health back — and a friendship that’ll hopefully last a lifetime.
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