While most people complain about stomach aches after Thanksgiving dinner, Alicia began complaining about pains in her left leg and foot in 2004. Then she started to limp. Her mother, Shelly, took her to their family doctor, who referred them to specialists looking for the cause of the problem. Then she heard the most frightening news a parent could hear, “Your daughter has cancer.”
In January 2005, Alicia was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare but aggressive form of bone cancer. She was admitted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital to begin intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
After three weeks of treatments, Alicia was sent home to continue her recovery. But a high fever sent her back to the hospital a few days later. Her blood cell counts were so low that her doctor ordered a blood transfusion. The doctor assured Alicia’s family that the transfusion was just the medicine she needed to feel better. The family could see an immediate difference. The color returned to her face and even her attitude was more positive.
Alicia received seventeen red blood cell and platelet transfusions to help her battle the side effects of chemotherapy. During a visit to the clinic, Alicia commented, “Even though I’m in pain, all I need is some blood and I will feel better.” She received her last chemotherapy treatment in November 2005. She currently shows no sign of recurrence and will be monitored annually.
Alicia made many sacrifices to get better. During her treatments, she could not have fast food, go to the movies or play soccer. She was home-schooled following her diagnosis, but returned to public school in January 2006. All of these things were minor inconveniences, according to her mother. “We are grateful for every blood transfusion that Alicia received,” Shelly said. “Each one made her stronger. Blood donors are true heroes in my daughter’s battle with cancer.”
Alicia graduated from Liberty High School in May 2012. She lives with her family in Peoria.