By Zara Arboleda
Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma - or ALL - is one of the most commonly diagnosed pediatric cancers. But Children's Hospital Central California helps young patients not only battle the disease, but thrive for years afterwards. One successful story is that of 18-year-old Audrey Carrillo.
She was diagnosed with ALL when she was 8 years old, and just a few months into intensive chemotherapy treatments, she suffered a stroke. While doctors told her mom she might not ever walk again, Audrey refused to believe in anything but the best outcome. "I was just happy," she says. "I knew nothing bad was gonna happen."
It took two and a half years of chemotherapy and radiation - and physical therapy to help her regain movement in the paralyzed parts of her body - but Audrey has made a remarkable recovery. She's one of the hundreds of patients to take part in the hospital's "Late Effects/Survivorship Program." Doctors and nurses not only make sure children continue on with post-cancer checkups, they also provide emotional support so that they can continue to progress. Audrey says the program helped keep her on track healthwise, but also academically. In fact, she's going to Cal State East Bay later this month - the first in her family to go to college.
Audrey's goal is to return to Children's Hospital one day as a pediatric oncologist nurse. She says, "I can tell them - Oh, Yeah. I'm a survivor, too."