GRIMES, Iowa –Lucy Almeida, 2, loves hugs, especially from her two older brothers. “Lucy is our youngest and our only girl,” said Mom Katie Almeida.
Lucy got really sick around this time last year. “She was at day care and just before she got up from a nap she wouldn't stand and wouldn't walk, " said Katie.
They took her to the ER and ran many tests. She was sick off and on for the next month.
In November, she was finally diagnosed. Katie said, "Initially they said she had bronchitis and Scott was on his way to the pharmacy when the pediatrician called back and said we need you to come back in. There is something we want to look at in the blood.”
They ended up back in the Emergency Room. “We were there for a few hours and met our oncologist, Dr. Woods and nurse Sara, and got that sentence that you never want to hear,” said Katie.
Dad Scott Almeida added, “When they tell you to sit down, that`s not great.”
They learned Lucy had leukemia. She started her tough two and a half years of treatment right away. “She`s had a lot of tough complications. The treatment takes them to the edge really of what their body should be able to stand up to in order to get rid of the cells, but then you`re also taking a very small baby very close to that knife-edge,” said Katie.
That's why the family is participating the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Light the Night in Des Moines. “The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has been such a huge part of changing the way kids are treated with cancer so hopefully someday have a treatment that doesn`t put them through that first 29 days of super aggressive treatments," said Katie.
This summer, LLS launched the Children's Initiative. It’s a multi-year pledge of $50 million towards pediatric research, patient support, and advocacy. The biggest piece is finding a new treatment because 80% of those who survive suffer life-long problems.
Those side effects include other cancers, hearing loss, and fertility problems. “I mean the side effects are horrendous. So, we are looking for an alternative to chemo and that is LLS’s goal in the next five years to have an alternative treatment to chemo,” said Candi Ladwig with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Lucy will participate in Light the Night. It starts at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 28th at Principal Park. You can register and learn more at lightthenight.org.