wARRIORS OF THE MONTH
As part of our foundation’s mission to raise awareness, we would like to recognize the brave pediatric warriors who are battling cancer. Starting this month, our Warrior of the Month program will share one courageous journey or story each month.
If you would like to share your story, please contact us via social media or Breanna@bryson12sunshine.org.
JANUARY 2021: EZEKIEL MARTINEZ
Ezekiel was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on November 5, 2019 at 21 months old. He is now about to celebrate his third birthday! He did not reach 0% minimal residual disease at the prospective time (have no cancer cells in body) so he was moved to the "high risk" bracket and he reached 0% MRD (no cancer cells) on March 13, 2020. Although he is considered to be in remission, his battle continues for approximately 2 more years to ensure that every single leukemia cell is destroyed. If even one cell is hiding in the body, it can quickly multiply and cause a relapse. Through all the bumps along his journey, he always smiles and pushes through. He has just finished Frontline treatment, the most invasive part, and entered maintenance. This means his 4x a week chemo infusions at the hospital have been decreased to 2x a month with most of his chemo taken at home. To Ezekiel’s family, it seems like a never ending tunnel to maintenance but also the fastest 11 months of their lives. They are so happy to be here because it means they are one step closer to ringing the bell and being free of this monster.
With Ezekiel's father being a Hodkins Lymphoma survivor, their family is definitely resilient and tough. Together, they plan to overcome this and walk away stronger than ever.
If you would like to continue to follow Ezekiel’s journey, you can check out @ezekiels.battle (on instagram)!
FEBRUARY 2021: ROSIE JANE ROSELL
Rosie Jane Rosell turned 3 years old when she stopped walking. It took her family a month with many doctor appointments to figure out what was wrong. On July 6th, their whole world changed with a blood test. Immediately, she had two transfusions followed by a bone marrow biopsy, a port inserted in, and started chemotherapy.
From there, she started to experience side effects of her treatment as well. Hair loss, nausea, neuropathy, muscle and leg pain, and steroids became Rosie Jane’s world. Rosie Jane almost spent two months in the hospital due to low counts followed by a bacterial infection and a common cold. Rosie Jane didn’t walk for 13 weeks but through physical therapy and the encouragement of her three older siblings, Carly, John John, and Reed, she learned to walk again and even has started to run!
Her world now consists of constant appointments through out-patient visits with oncologists, psychologists, neurologists, and many trips to the ER because of her compromised immune system. She takes multiple pills a day and tries so hard to be good even when she doesn’t feel well.
Just as her mother, Emily, says, “We are so proud of Rosie Jane and will be right by her side for the two years of treatment. Rosie Jane, we love you baby girl, you can do it!”
MARCH 2021: RYAN SCARLET BRANCH
Ryan was diagnosed with stage 4 Wilms tumor of the kidney in August of 2020. The tumor grew from her right kidney and began to spread up through her vein towards her heart. She underwent two months of chemo to shrink the tumor, mainly from that vein.
Unfortunately, the tumor only shrunk in her kidney, not the desired vein. As a result, she had a 12 hour surgery to have her right kidney removed, as well as the tumor from the vein that was leading up to her heart. The surgery was a success! Soon after, she underwent 6 treatments of radiation and two more months of chemo. Ryan’s last chemo treatment was this past March 12th!
She has a few more CT and X-Ray scans to determine the next steps in her healing process!
APRIL 2021: ALEX VUCISH
On Mother’s Day of 2020, Alex’s family got the heartbreaking news that he (3 years old) had been diagnosed with High Risk Stage 3 Neuroblastoma. As most cancer families know, hearing "Your child has cancer” are the most devastating words a parent can hear. For Alex’s family, it felt like their world was crashing down.
Since then, Alex has fought and persevered through his treatments, including 6 rounds of aggressive chemo, liver failure that left him on life support for 2 weeks, a 15 hour tumor removal surgery, relearning how to walk, 2 stem cell harvests, a bone marrow transplant, and 14 rounds of radiation. Also, during this time, Alex’s brother, Dominic, was born.
Now, Alex and his family continue the rough journey against cancer, working through the lowest lows and highest highs. While they dearly miss their life before Alex’s cancer diagnoses, they are extremely proud of how far Alex’s come and how he continues to give this fight his all! We are all cheering for you Alex!
MAY 2021: HYRUM
It has been nearly 600 days since a doctor walked into Hyrum’s hospital room just after 1:00 AM and diagnosed him with leukemia. While his family were no strangers to hospitals, it was the very first time in his 3 years of life he had gone to the ED not knowing what was wrong. 4 hours later, he was admitted for 34 days with a new diagnosis and a new focus: surviving cancer.
While their journey still has around another 600 days to go, it has taught them many things, mainly that priorities can be altered to more simple things. Social distancing saves lives and music is healing. Hyrum has faced so much adversity throughout these last 19 months. He has been admitted to the ICU over and over and over, always for breathing difficulty. He has had covid twice, a cyst in his brain, a thyroid that failed, kidney stones from steroids, and fractures in his feet from a depleted bone marrow. His family has learned that sunshine brings chemotherapy rashes, chemotherapy brings seizures, and that one can manage to survive without food for several days in a row and when hunger takes over, anything is allowed.
They have learned Hyrum's love language is music and cuddles, that sleep is more important than school, and that Hyrum's daily affirmations of, “I strong,” standing in front of a mirror while flexing his tiny toddler muscles carry a family trying to endure. They could have never imagined Hyrum having Dwayne the Rock Johnson as a personal fan or that he would receive prayers and well wishes from strangers around the globe.
But here they are, full of gratitude for the journey they are on. It has given them focus and a determination to live intentionally every single day. It has reminded them to have hope, especially on hard days and to choose joy because if Hyrum has taught them anything, it's that attitude matters!
JUNE 2021: ELLIE RUBY COGAN
On July 18th, 2020, Ellie’s parents received the devastating news that she had been diagnosed with Grade IV Glioblastoma. Ellie had been just shy of turning 11 months old.
As many cancer families know, a diagnosis affects the entire family, and suddenly, Ellie’s life revolved around countless scans, multiple surgeries and radiation treatments, and several rounds of chemotherapy. While the journey was filled with obstacles, she has remained strong and positive through it all. A true princess warrior!
Inspired by Ellie’s battle with cancer, her parents, Brittany and Jonathan Cogan, created the Ellie Ruby Foundation. They strive to raise childhood cancer awareness, fund cancer research, as well as offer support to other childhood cancer families. You can find more information about the Ellie Ruby Foundation @teamelliec !
JULY 2021: JAYCE A. GALVAN
On May 1st, 2020, Jayce was diagnosed with MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndrome), a type of Leukemia. After his first bone marrow transplant, Jayce relapsed and the MDS converted to AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia). He then underwent a 2nd bone marrow transplant and multiple stem cell boosts and is currently hopeful for engraftment.
Jayce has had a rough journey from several rounds of chemo to radiation to two transplants. He spent most of his treatment inpatient, living in the hospital.
Dealing with this crazy lifestyle for half his life, he has been a true warrior. He continues to always smile and wants to give everyone knuckle bumps!!
You can continue to follow Jayce’s courageous battle @babyjayceg on instagram!
AUGUST 2021: KAINE
Kaine is a spunky and goofy 5 year old who likes to play outside. Recently, Kaine was feeling ill and his mother took him to the emergency room. After being there all night with a fever, they did not find anything wrong, so they gave him an ibuprofen and sent him and his mother home. His father, both a parent and a teacher, understood that kids got sick all the time, but this time felt different. About 1 hour after arriving to the hospital, they learned that he was going to be transferred to the children’s hospital in Milwaukee.
While they knew there was a chance that Kaine could have leukemia, they wanted to do more tests to be sure. When the results confirmed a B cell leukemia diagnosis, it was devastating for Kaine and his family. Kaine has been receiving treatment, and is currently in maintenance. He is scheduled to finish treatment in December!
OCTOBER 2021: ALICE
Alice was 10 months old when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. At the time, it was not affecting her much so doctors monitored it with regular MRI’s for a year and a half. Two months ago, Alice started chemotherapy and a trial drug to try to shrink the tumor. Similar to a spiders web, the tumor had grown. They are currently unsure if surgery is possible.
Currently, she is having a really hard time with chemotherapy as she is terrified of the hospital. They are hoping things will get better in time. Keep fighting Alice!
NOVEMBER 2021: CHARLIE
Charlie is a four year old from San Jose, California. Her journey began around April of 2020 when she complained about having headaches and feeling wobbly when trying to get onto the potty seat. She then vomited randomly two days in a week without having any other symptoms.
Her mom immediately knew something was wrong and contacted her pediatrician. The doctor initially said Charlie looked fantastic, but still ordered a CT scan, bloodwork, and an eye appointment. They got the CT scan result the next day and received a call that Charlie had a brain tumor and needed to be admitted to the hospital immediately.
A day later, she underwent brain surgery and was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Since then, Charlie has gone through over a year of high dose IV chemotherapy, chemotherapy directly injected to her cerebral spinal fluid, and low dose oral chemotherapy. She has remained a fearless warrior throughout the entire process.
She recently finished treatment and got to ring the bell! Go Charlie!
DECEMBER 2021: MACK PORTER
Macky is a fun-loving, carefree three year old boy from Mesa, Arizona. When Macky first started experiencing difficulty breathing, his parents had thought it was due to COVID-19. Several weeks of doctors visits, where bloodwork and tests were performed, still gave no answers. On January 20th, after a visit to the ER, Macky was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Stage 3 Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma.
Since then, Macky has endured chemotherapy for a tumor in his chest and lesions on his bones. The ongoing pandemic made visitations more difficult, but despite all the ups and downs, Macky has remained a cute, smiling warrior!
Fortunately, on July 26, 2021, Macky completed his treatment and went into remission! Today, he remains a lover of firetrucks and will soon be visiting Disney World for the first time!
JANUARY 2022: KAI MARLEY DE LEON
On July 1, 2020, Kai was welcomed into this world as an adorable little boy. However, shortly after he turned six months old, his parents began to notice that he had decreased strength in his neck and torso. After calling the doctor for a checkup, Kai was given an MRI where he was found to have both extra fluid and a mass in his brain.
Kai underwent brain surgery to have the tumor removed, but due to the sheer trauma from the surgery, he suffered seizures and a stroke. From the analysis of the removed tumor, Kai was diagnosed with ATRT, an aggressive and rare cancer.
Since his diagnosis, Kai has undergone several rounds of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, a couple months ago, Kai faced a relapse and tumors were found once again. He is currently planning on participating in a CAR-T immunotherapy clinical trial in Seattle.
Through all the ups and downs, Kai remains as cute as ever! We are cheering for him! If you would like to follow along his journey, check out @keepfightingforkai on Instagram or their website, keepfightingforkai.com.
MARCH 2022: ELLIX
In April of 2021, Ellix’s family received his diagnosis: B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (B-ALL). From there, he began a two and a half year long battle.
Ellix was enrolled in a clinical trial and received a multitide of chemotherapy treatments and procedures. Many of these had side effects such as hair loss, nausea, water retention, among others. However, through it all, he remained his family’s little superhero!
Currently, Ellix is in the maintenance stage of his treatment! He loves hanging out with his siblings, jamming out to Imagine Dragons, and dressing up as superheroes! He is super excited to be going to Walt Disney World in a couple weeks!
APRIL 2022: AVA THOMAS
In early September of 2021, Ava was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer called Medulloblastoma. Soon after, Ava underwent surgery and 30 days of chemotherapy and radiation. Since then, Ava has continued to be an adorable princess despite the ups and downs she has had to endure. In fact, because she was too compromised to visit Santa this past December, her community got together to throw Ava her very own Christmas parade and brought Santa Claus to her instead! Ava is now soon beginning her fifth cycle of treatment and remains a humorous, brave, and energetic fighter. We are constantly cheering her on! Feel free to check our @avastrong17 on instagram to follow Ava’s journey!
MAY 2022: JAMES G.
On December 18, 2020, James' family learned that their happy, active 4 year old son had been diagnosed with cancer. They were not given much information besides that the cancer had been spreading. What started as a checkup on a swollen lymph node turned into an admission into the hospital only a couple hours later. The official diagnosis was stage 4 neuroblastoma.
Since then, James has had 7 rounds of chemotherapy and 9 rounds of immuntherapy, as well as countless scans and appointments, and several procedures and surgeries completed. Despite all of this, James, now 5 years old, has kept a brave face and a resilient attitude!
He continues to be a courageous warrior and loves spending time with his super sibling, Maddie. In the approaching months, James will be participating in a neuroblastoma vaccine clinical trial, in hopes of training his body to further fight off the neuroblastoma. Go James! (You can follow along James’ journey @superherojamesg on instagram!)
JUNE 2022: ETHAN
On June 9, 2021, Ethan received a devastating diagnosis: acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
In the short 6 months after, Ethan's life revolved around bone marrow biopsies, emergency visits, blood transfusions, lumbar punctures, chemotherapies, and 34 nights in the hospital. At the end of 2021, a little over 6 months after his diagnosis, Ethan completed his last Blinatumomab infusion and went into remission!
Ethan is currently in the Frontline treatment phase (delayed intensification phase) and will move to the interim maintenance phase afterwards if all goes as planned. In the meantime, he has been going to the hospital for consistent visits and checkups while spending time at home with his parents and siblings. The goal is that he continues to stay in remission throughout the next stage of his treatment! We are rooting for Ethan!
JULY 2022: HADLEY
In fall of 2019, Hadley's family was excited for her to start kindergarten, but shortly after, her legs started hurting and her teachers noticed that she was not her usual self. As her pain became more persistent, Hadley's parents brought her to a doctor where she did multiple tests and finally received the diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
It promised a great prognosis but a two and a half year treatment plan. As Hadley started the long battle ahead, she took chemotherapy pills, received lumbar puncture procedures, and had appointments every week. All the while, Hadley has remained resilient and brave, and their family avidly advocates for everyone to donate blood, especially since blood donations are commonly needed by pediatric cancer patients.
In fact, Hadley's village has started a movement of donating blood and wearing cat ears (Hadley's symbol)! As Hadley continues her battle, her family hopes to continue to raise awareness and educate others!
To follow Hadley’s story, you can check out @katybcrain on instagram!
AUGUST 2022: JOCELYN
On September 6, 2019, Jocelyn was admitted into the hospital and diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
A mass had grown next to her heart as a result of the leukemia, causing her difficulty with breathing. Over the next nearly two and a half years, Jocelyn courageously battled her cancer, receiving several different rounds of treatment and chemotherapies.
On January 15, 2022, Jocelyn officiallly completed her treatment and has been rebuilding her strength. Meanwhile, Jocelyn and her mother, who is also a cancer survivor, continue to raise cancer awareness in their community!
We wish Jocelyn all the best as she starts fifth grade!
SEPTEMBER 2022: ELIZABETH GRACE GRANT
In February of this year, Lizzie began showing minor symptoms such as fatigue and stomach aches. When her symptoms worsened, her patients took her to the ER where blood work was performed. When the doctors were alarmed by the results, Lizzie was dlown to the University of Davis Medical Center where further tests confirmed Lizzie’s diagnosis: leukemia.
Currently, Lizzie is undergoing chemotherapy treatment. When she is up to it, Lizzie enjoys dressing up and spending time with her family!
She is a true warrior princess!
DECEMBER 2022: JOEL
Joel, "JoJo", is a fierce, fun-loving 5-year-old who has bravely fought stage 4 neuroblastoma, a cancer of the sympathetic nervous system, for over 4 years now. JoJo is the definition of a warrior. JoJo's cancer journey began at 18 months old when his mother discovered a localized softball sized tumor above his adrenal gland. Following an initial 4 rounds of chemotherapy and surgery, he was declared cancer free in 2019.
Unfortunately, and to the shock of his family, in December of 2019, JoJo experienced the first of many relapses. After more rounds of chemo and complex, invasive surgeries, JoJo achieved remission again, but continued to relapse because of the aggressive nature of this cancer. In 2020, in search of a treatment to help JoJo achieve remission once again, JoJo and his family relocated to seek the innovative neuroblastoma treatments at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City, which included 12 sessions of Proton radiation, additional high-dose chemotherapy, and 7 rounds of an immunotherapy designed at MSK called Hu3f8. Despite the promising news of clear scans at multiple points while receiving treatments in New York and continued chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments thereafter at home, JoJo has continued to relapse.
JoJo is currently fighting his 5th relapse, which they learned of recently, and his family is anxiously awaiting a treatment plan from their doctors. As you can imagine, JoJo's protracted fight against neuroblastoma has been heartbreaking and his family continues to endure the many challenges that come with a child fighting cancer, including but not limited to missed work, looming medical bills, and time away from family.
This also includes the required, yet awe inspiring, resilience of his super sibling Nora, who has made many sacrifices of her own in support of her warrior brother along this journey.
Despite all of this, JoJo's family stands at the ready to fight this next relapse and is immensely grateful for the community members that support families like theirs as they continue to fight the good fight alongside their incredible son!
JANUARY 2023: LANDON
Landon was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on March 15, 2021. He went to the Emergency Room on March 12, 2021 for back pain. He had been previously seen at an orthpedic clinic, and the doctors wanted a MRI to be completed which could only be done through the Emergency Room. The doctors took a x-ray which showed compressed fractures down his spine, and his blood work had some abnormal cells as well. As a result, he was admitted to the Hematology/Oncology floor that night and was told that a cancer diagnosis was probable.
In disbelief, his parenrs requested for further testing. An MRI showed that Leukemia Cells were invading his spine bone marrow. The next day he had a bone marrow biopsy and it was confirmed for B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Treatment for this type of cancer consists of 2 and 1/2 years of chemotherapy. Landon is currently in maintenance cycle number 4 and on month 2.
At the same time, he is a Roblox and Avengers loving first grader and is in a foreign Language Magnet program learning French. He is set to finish treatment in May.
We are cheering for you, Landon!
MARCH 2023: KILLIAN
On August 12 2022, Killian was diagnosed with B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Life changed so quickly and drastically for both him and his family and would never be the same.
Before his diagnosis, Killian was so full of energy and was always running around playing and being silly. After nearly 2 months of laying around and sleeping alot, he is finally getting back to his usual self.
Due to his treatments, he lost his ability to walk as a side effect but he is currently starting to learn to walk again. Seeing this is bittersweet for his family. They see his strength and are in awe of him, but are also hurting so much for their little boy having to be stronger than any kid should ever have to be. His treatment plan is 2 to 3 years long but the effects of his cancer and treatments may last even after he goes into remission.
We are rooting for Killian!