Then-15-year-old Alexis had no symptoms of serious illness when she went in for routine bloodwork two years ago. She wasn’t expecting her endocrinologist to find anything abnormal, much less to go down a years long journey with acute myeloid leukemia.
“And that’s where our journey began. You could say that Children’s Health found me,” said her mother Shannon, a mother of four who works in human resources and manages a college recruiting program. “We arrived that night and ended up staying for five months. Alexis understood that she was going to lose her hair, and as a teenage girl, that scared her.”
Though Alexis was diagnosed at the Dallas campus, she was soon transferred to Children’s Medical Center Plano for her treatment to be closer to her Frisco home.
“When I first found out that I had leukemia, it was really heartbreaking,” Alexis said. “But I really enjoyed being in the hospital with the nurses. They made life fun, and it made me feel like my friends were right there with me.”
While at Children’s Health, Alexis was able to be the manager of her high school girls’ basketball team and make plans to attend college to study finance. She rang the bell signaling the end of her treatment before her 16th birthday.
However, in the winter of 2022, Alexis began to notice more bruises on her body. A week before Christmas, she learned that her leukemia had relapsed.
“Getting diagnosed a second time was really hard for me. It’s my senior year, and I was looking forward to prom and my high school graduation,” Alexis said. “The experience has made me grateful for the things in life that I do have.”
Unfortunately, after Alexis finished chemotherapy for the second time, she needed a bone marrow transplant.
“Acute myeloid leukemia can be a little bit hard to treat. It’s one of the cancers that we say is a little pesky because it isn’t always a straight arrow,” said Tamra Slone, Alexis’ doctor and a pediatric hematologist/oncologist and Plano Service Chief in the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Health.
“When Alexis’ leukemia returned, I was really sad because I didn’t want anything to happen to her. I wanted her to be OK,” Alexis’ brother and bone marrow donor, Aiden, said. “I told my mom that, yes, I would like to save my sister’s life, and she gave me a big hug.”
Though Alexis had to be isolated during her chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant process, Children’s Health recreated some of her senior moments.
“People talk about giving money to hospitals they hear about on TV, and I want people to understand that supporting your local hospital is important. To me, Children’s Health is the best hospital in the United States. The team here has been with us every step of this journey, in big and small ways,” Shannon said. “You want to give to a place that supports the community, and Children’s Health does a great job of making sure that all children are taken care of.”
In June, Alexis was able to finally go home. But the memories of building LEGOS, chatting about reality TV, playing card games, listening to music and cheering as she headed home with her Children’s Health care team will last forever.
Children’s Medical Center Foundation is seeking donations on North Texas Giving Day to help families like Alexis’.