This story is a very personal story for me. My friend Ashia Middleton who resides in NY, where I used to live, has a daughter with stage 4 cancer called Neuroblastoma. Ashia’s daughter is four years old and already has to deal with one of the worst conditions to ever be in this world. Aliyanna is a child who is always on the go and knows how to stand her ground and stand up for herself and now just by looking at her, you can see she is in pain and has no energy anymore.
Aliyanna was three years old when her mother started noticing small things that were affecting her. One day in August, she was feeling tired and looking sluggish. Ashia noticed she was not eating as much, and she was not having any bowel movements either. She started to notice her ribs within two weeks and, still not thinking anything of it, she gave her a laxative three times that same week. Ashia realized the laxative was not working and now her daughter’s stomach was hard; it had expanded as if she was going to be giving birth at any moment. That is when she became very worried and concerned. Ashia drove to Winthrop University Hospital at 2 am and waited as they performed tests on Aliyanna for two hours. A doctor came back and told Ashia the worst possible news. Her daughter has a huge mass that happened to be a cancerous tumor. They disclosed the information of her daughter having rare cancer, and Aliyanna was in the worst stage possible.
Aliyanna’s tumor reached her bone marrow; and, with a 40/60 percent survival rate, she was expected to be in the hospital for 15-18 months. She has been through five chemotherapy treatments and still has two more to go. She will be doing stem cell infusion of her own cells that the doctors collected and froze back in November. After that, she will then go into radiation. She’s done an MIBG radiation at Penn State Hospital in Philadelphia that was fully paid for by the Children’s Oncology Group. But not everything is fully paid for. Her insurance will not pay for everything and even denied one of the treatments Aliyanna needed. When her insurance doesn’t pay, the Children’s Oncology Group pays for her because she is apart of a research group called COG. This is something that she will be billed for later on, but her concern right now is for her daughter and not on the cost. Thankfully, her uncle who has the money will be paying all the medical bills for her.
Aliyanna used to have beautiful luxurious blended black and Hispanic hair, but, after chemo, started her hair started falling out and she asked Ashia to cut the rest off. She is now bald and doing amazing. Things are going well and she looks happy and content. Ashia is doing this on her own with help from family every now and then, but she is dealing with something very strong and powerful and even the strongest people need help. Ashia makes sure her daughter is happy and is feeling okay. Sometimes she stays up late to make sure Aliyanna does not choke on her own vomit, which she sometimes does. She has been by her side 24/7 and making sure her daughter knows she will be okay and she is not alone.
This cancer is extremely rare; they are always doing new and different treatments. She is being used as the guinea pig, but – as long as she gets better and these tests are subjecting her to work – we will be okay and everything will be perfect.