On January 13th, 2014 Alyssa Nevaeh Zuniga was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of 6 years old and in kindergarten. In the months prior to her diagnosis Alyssa had been coming down with constant fevers, night sweats and continuous dry coughing accompanied with knee pain and eventually limping. I noticed a rash on her legs which appeared to be tiny dots in a light shade of red but figured it was due to the change in the body wash. Alyssa went through out her days as herself, waking up for school and getting through the day. Her appetite started to decrease as she had always been a good eater. She started to grow very fatigued all the time. But Alyssa being the strong willed child that she is, continued to go about her days and attend school regularly as she always had.
Suddenly on December 24th, 2013 Alyssa went into compulsions in result of a seizure. I rushed her to the emergency room at the Edinburg Children’s Hospital only to find that she suffered yet another febrile seizure. I mentioned to the attending physician about her knee pain but the doctor dismissed it as growing pains and was sent home. Alyssa’s joint pain became so severe over the next few days. I then followed up with her pediatrician in the days past, the doctor didn’t want to wait for an orthopedic specialist and was concerned with her blood tests. We were sent to the Edinburg Children’s Hospital back and forth twice and then called into the doctor’s office to do another blood test.
On Friday, January 10th, 2014 I received a phone call to go into the doctor’s office to review with the doctor Alyssa’s blood results. I was told to bring Alyssa and not to worry she was just anemic. I picked up Alyssa from school on early release and we drove to her pediatrician’s office. Nervous but in good spirits we waited to speak with the doctor. As the doctor came in and greeted us he took a brief pause and began informing me of the results. It appeared anemia was the least of our worries. The doctor began to explain that Alyssa needed to see an oncologist/hematologist. Unaware of anything cancerous aside from breast cancer I was lost and could not understand what he was trying to tell me. He went into more detail such as her white blood cell count looking abnormal and how rapidly it changed from the time of the seizure to now. He explained and was quiet hesitant to reveal the results but continued to do so. He said, and I’d never forget, how he felt he needed to express his concern to the hospital because it looks to be that Alyssa has cancer.
Some of the worst and most difficult words to try to acknowledge and process, words that a parent should never have to hear. As hard as I tried I couldn’t help but hold back the tears. The doctor said he wanted her to see an oncologist in the hospital because waiting for an appointment would take too long and he didn’t want it to get worse. We spent the whole weekend waiting and undergoing a bone marrow biopsy to confirm if she indeed did have cancer and if so to determine which type. Sadly on January 13th, 2014 we received a confirmation that Alyssa most certainly did have cancer and was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). Alyssa completed treatment on March 20th 2016. Today she has occasional check ups and is doing well.