Leah was found to suffer from acute lymphoblastic leukemia in February 2010
PICTURES: Dan & Charli tour St. Jude Children's Research Hospital >>
DETAILS: Y100 Country Cares for St. Jude Kids Radiothon Feb 14 & 15 >>
Leah, who was born with Down syndrome, stands behind a doorway and peers around it mischievously. Her blonde hair is held back by barrettes, and her smile is wide. She is playing hide-and-seek with her older brother, Luke. When he catches her looking around the doorway, Leah collapses into a fit of giggles at being ‘caught,’ then scampers away to hide once more.
This scene, with Leah and her brother laughing together, is a common one in Leah’s home, one her parents feared they’d never see when Leah was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in February 2010.
In early 2010, Leah’s mouth began to hurt. At first, her mom thought the pain was due to teething. But when Leah started to run a fever and didn’t want to walk, her parents called their pediatrician. Tests soon revealed Leah suffered from ALL, the most common form of childhood cancer. “Our world just fell apart,” said Leah’s mom. Her family was quickly referred to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where Leah began a two-and-a-half-year chemotherapy treatment protocol.
The hospital's groundbreaking development of combination therapy for children with ALL revolutionized leukemia therapy worldwide and increased the survival rate from 4 percent when St. Jude opened in 1962 to 94 percent today.
Leah’s treatment has sometimes been difficult, but that hasn’t stopped her from doing the things little girls her age love to do, like play with her baby dolls or go to the playground, or, when a rousing game of hide-and-seek is through, reach her arms up to her beloved brother so he can give her a hug.