Dear Mark & 98.7 Listeners,
It is a special honor for me to tell you about Michelle, a one-of-a-kind little girl who has become well-known to me and other medical professionals within the span of the last few months. While Michelle is only 3-years-old, she should not be underestimated. Michelle is sassy, confident, and bold as can be. Earlier this year, Michelle and her family were blessed with a new addition to the family and Michelle earned her title as a big sister to her brother, Samuel. Just one short month after, Michelle and her family received devastating news that would come as a shock of a lifetime.
Michelle had been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Michelle went from sweetly playing with her new baby brother to being in an unfamiliar hospital room where she encountered many challenges. In the months since, Michelle’s family has undergone a complete change in lifestyle to help Michelle through her treatment that will last over the span of three years.
When I first met Michelle, I found her to be caring, strong-willed, and a devoted lover of My Little Pony. As a child life specialist at the children’s hospital, I get to support kids as they cope through challenges, teach them about what they’ll encounter, and help kids PLAY in the hospital. Michelle is one little girl who knows how to play! Michelle loves Disney princesses, especially Jasmine and Moana, as well as Minions. She also loves dressing up in dresses and pretty shoes. In fact, it is typical for Michelle to show up to one of her clinic visits or procedure days in an adorable dress and sandals. She always makes a statement!
In true girly-girl style, Michelle’s favorite colors are pink and purple. When she grows up, Michelle wishes to help animals by becoming a veterinarian. When Michelle was asked what her favorite places to shop are, she excitedly shared that she loves looking at toys at Sam’s Club, Toys ‘R Us, and Wallmart. Her Christmas wish is “a dress and not going to the doctor anymore.” While we know Michelle must continue coming to the hospital for treatment, it is my hope that as listeners, you can make at least one of this sweet girl’s Christmas wishes come true.
When a child is diagnosed with cancer, a family is as well. Michelle’s family would attest to the tremendous impact childhood cancer has had on their day to day lives, sharing that “it breaks (our) hearts seeing her sad and having to say ‘no.’” When I asked Michelle’s mom and dad what their wish for Christmas this year would be, they shared, “Our only wish is to see our kids happy and healthy. We want to be able to watch them grow up and be good people.”
Michelle’s parents have been 100% by her side throughout her days spent at the hospital and have found courage through faith and bible verses. They have made sacrifices to ensure that Michelle has their full support every step of the way. Their favorite stores to shop for their family at are TJ Maxx and Sears and they enjoy many restaurants including Wendy’s, Moe’s, and McDonalds. As for Michelle’s 3-month-old baby brother Samuel, he would benefit from some toys and developmental play items this Christmas.
I want to thank you for your time in listening to Michelle’s story. Over the span of a few months, I have seen Michelle go from a little girl who is fearful of any medical professional who walks into her room to a little girl who shows up dressed to impress and with a smile on her face. Her journey with childhood cancer has just begun. It would be such a joy to see Michelle and her family have an extra special Christmas this year.
Child Life Specialist
Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah
at Memorial University Medical Center
Photo: Getty Images