December 24, 2010
Nevaeh Sanchez and her family are really looking forward to Christmas this year. The 3-year-old is now cancer-free after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia as a baby. That required chemotherapy which made her very fussy and cranky last Christmas.
"Having her start playing and all of a sudden stop because her body was in pain... she couldn't take the pain," dad Willie Sanchez said.
She suffered brutal side effects: nausea, infections, and she was horrified when she lost her hair.
"When it started falling off the third time, she fought me and said I don't want the chemo anymore," mom Elsie Sanchez said. "She didn't want to lose her hair."
Nevaeh has the most common leukemia in children. But doctors say with chemotherapy, 85 percent are cured.
Nevaeh's final treatment was a month ago. Her doctor says she's typical of children with cancer who endure what no child should face.
"Our kids teach me to be brave, what it means to be courageous, to do what you need to do for yourself, what you need to do to get better even though you're afraid," said Dr. Peter Cole of The Children's Hospital at Montefiore.
For the Sanchez family, this Christmas is special.
"It's a blessing because, for a while, I really thought I was going to lose her," Elsie Sanchez said.
Nevaeh is heaven spelled backward. Whatever she gets for Christmas, she already got the greatest gift of all-- her health.
Nevaeh's doctors say there are no signs that the leukemia is coming back. She still has to be monitored once a month to make sure she's fully recovered from the side effects of chemotherapy.
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