To say that Alyssa Melecio is a “girly girl” is an understatement. According to her mom, Maggie Gonzalez, Alyssa loves to shop, dress up, wear high heels and refers to herself as a “diva.” She won’t go anywhere unless her hair is styled, even though her once waist-length hair is considerably shorter since she began chemo treatments for leukemia in 2012 at Lurie Children’s.
“Alyssa has a big personality,” says Maggie. “When she comes to the hospital for treatments, she lights up the place. She may not love the treatments, but she loves coming to the hospital and visiting with her favorite nurses. She’s a real trouper.”
Watch the video below to hear Alyssa and her parents discuss her treatment at Lurie Children’s.
Alyssa has needed that inner strength to deal with the effects of her disease. Leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer, is cancer of the blood that develops in the bone marrow. When a child has leukemia, the bone marrow begins to make white blood cells that do not mature correctly and fight infections as normal white blood cells do. Alyssa’s form of leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), accounts for more than 85% of all childhood leukemias.
We’re happy to report that more than a year into her two-year course of chemo, Alyssa’s treatments are going well. She’s in the “maintenance” phase, where she receives less intense chemo for a longer time.
Now that she’s feeling better, Alyssa is busy making plans for her future — her future as a nurse, that is. “When we’re at the hospital and Alyssa sees little kids who are sick, she always wants to do something to help them,” Maggie says. “After she told us she wanted to be a nurse, we got her a little nurse’s outfit that she sometimes wears to the hospital. When we asked her why she wants to be a nurse, she said, ‘So I can help other kids like me.’”
We’re all looking forward to the day when Alyssa gets to trade in her dresses for scrubs!
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Be sure to check our Facebook page and blog throughout the month for more updates about Lurie Children’s cancer treatment programs and what you can do to get involved.