Learn from the Pain

Our life has been impacted forever, and it has been changing day by day since Lorenza was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2019. Some days have been good and some days...not so much. There are days I feel positive that we are going to see the light soon. Other days are bad, especially when my daughter has diarrhea, nausea, stomach aches or she feels bad without any apparent reason. I want to believe that everything is going to be alright. I want to think there will be a cure for her. And that someday, we as a family are going to enjoy our life, and we are going to have fun without guilt.

She is five years old, and she doesn’t understand why she must take all her medicines, yet she takes them without hesitation anyway. This is her “normal,” this is the childhood she knows. She likes the color pink, she likes to play with toys, and enjoys watching her favorite shows. But in comparison with other girls her age, she has disabilities because of her treatments - two bone marrow transplants, a high dose of steroids, other medications, and so on. She looks different and she is treated differently. People stare at her; kids don’t want to play with her. She can’t climb a slide or jump. It breaks my heart every time, and yet she is fierce and brave with a great spirit. She is a fighter, and we are fighters for her.

At the beginning of the diagnosis, I wanted to demonstrate that I was strong and that I had it all under control, but after three years of treatment, I realized I don’t have all the answers. I am a normal human. Now I let my family see me cry, see me exhausted, see me frustrated. I want to show them that it is ok not to be ok all the time. However, we have to adapt and embrace our new reality, and we have to live with it. There will be rough patches in our journey and we must confront them with fierceness and resiliency.

I don’t know what is going to happen, but this experience makes me appreciate every minute of life. I remember how life was before the diagnosis - our concerns and interests were superfluous and lacked spiritual influence. Now I appreciate the little things, such as rain, sun, the day, the night, and being closer as a family. We have reframed our faith and values. I ask God to restore my faith and to give me the strength to guide my family. We can walk through all of this together. We have learned many lessons from our experiences and these lessons will last a lifetime. Not only the experience, but Lorenza has been a great teacher for us all as well.

MORE ABOUT LORENZO:

Lorenza was born on July 14th, 2017, in Dallas Texas. She is the youngest of three girls, Valentina 19, Renatta 13, and Lorenza now 5 years old. She is the littlest one in our family. She has a strong personality and at a young age she knows what she wants. She is persevering, smart, brave, and sensitive. Yet, when she gets mad you better run, no one wants to mess with her. She likes crafts, music, singing, and dancing. She makes me do her own playlist and every time she finds a new song that she likes, she makes me add it to her list. We have more than 100 songs already. Her favorite shows to watch are Bluey and Gabby’s house. She loves medical supplies, I guess after spending so much time in the hospital she is interested in all that. She says she wants to be a doctor but also work at Chick-fil-A. She really likes chicken tenders.

We found out she was sick because she was always cranky and cried all the time, one day she was complaining about pain in her arm but it was hard to know because she was only one year old and a half. We went to the ER, and they didn’t see anything wrong but referred her to an orthopedist, he put a cast on her arm, but she did not improve. She continued to cry and be uncomfortable. I knew something was wrong, I thought she couldn’t cry that much. I took her to her pediatrician to ask for a lab. The next day I went for the results and the doctor told me that the blood test came abnormal, and I had to take her immediately to the emergency room at Dallas Children’s Hospital. I was paralyzed. I took her to the hospital. They ran tests again and they confirmed the diagnosis of Leukemia. I started to cry because I knew our lives had changed forever.

Article written by Violeta Fernandez

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