Not all of the girls had the same form of cancer, but they were all treated at John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. The girls, who are named McKinley, Ava, Chloe, and Lauren, met two years ago when undergoing treatment. John Hopkins is a hospital that specializes in pediatric care and has been named one of the top 50 children’s hospitals in the world.
As well as the top-quality medical care and the love of their families, it was their friendship that helped them get through their cancer treatment and life in a cancer ward. It also helped the tots to feel like they were not alone.
“She’s three years old and doesn’t have any hair, but all her friends in the hospital look the same way,” said Shawna Glynn, mother to Lauren. “So, it kind of gave her some normalcy.”
Whenever they weren’t undergoing cancer treatment, the girls talked and played together as much as possible. The love and joy of their friendship also helped their parents through what must have been an unbelievably tough time.
“Amazing to see how far they’ve come from being bald little babies,” said Alyssa Luciano, mother to Ava.
Their former nurses were also there for the photo shoot, and were overwhelmed with joy that the girls are happy, healthy, and together.
“It gives me chills,” said Paige Ward, a nurse on the ward who had cared for all four of the friends. “It makes me want to cry. I mean, I love these kids as if they were my own, for sure. They’re awesome.”
When the friends first met, they were all undergoing active treatment. They had no hair due to chemotherapy and other treatments, and it was a frightening time for the kids and their families.
Three of the girls — McKinley, Ava, and Lauren — were diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Meanwhile, Chloe had an extremely rare form of lung cancer.
Lauren was the last of the four girls to be declared cancer-free, to the great relief of her family, friends, and the ward as a whole.
The girls are even growing back their lovely hair, and are ready to start kindergarten, having already faced the biggest challenge that life can throw at a person. As their shirts say, they are true survivors. Just look at how far they've come between the picture above and the most recent photograph below!
Childhood cancer is thankfully very rare, with only about one child in every 330 being diagnosed each year in the United States. However, of those children, about 30 percent will be diagnosed with leukemia, just like three of the four girls were.
Leukemia is cancer of the blood. The girls described it as, “our blood was sick.” There are many different kinds of leukemia, with a number of different treatments. Patients may undergo IV drugs, oral drugs, radiation, and many other treatments, all of which can be extremely hard on the body and psychologically, especially for little kids. Thankfully, these four were able to fight the condition successfully.
It honestly brought happy tears to my eye to hear about this story. These little girls have been through so much together, and they obviously love each other enormously. I wish them every happiness in life. I bet they'll be friends forever! I'm so happy for them and their families.