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MODEL OF THE MONTH

“What does it mean to #BeAlexisStrong? Be Creative, Be Kind, Be Determined.”- Alexis

When Alexis’s mom took her in for a visit with her primary care doctor regarding the belly pain she was having, she ended up needing an ultrasound of her stomach. Within minutes of the ultrasound being completed, Alexis’ primary care doctor called and told them to take her to the emergency room right away because her scan showed a possible ruptured appendix. Alexis’ dad was in California at the time, but her mom recalls being so grateful for having her mom with them, Alexis’ Grandma. When the family got to the emergency room, scans were done, blood was drawn, and the doctor on duty in the emergency room came in. The next few moments for Alexis’s family felt extremely surreal. The days following the initial emergency room visit were a blur of tests, surgeries, and doctor consultations. Alexis’ Dad and Mom, along with both sets of grandparents sat outside of the surgery unit, in utter shock with the confirmation that she did indeed have Stage IV Rhabdomyosarcoma. The constant questions of why and how plague the family.

Upon her initial diagnosis with Stage IV Rhabdomyosarcoma, Alexis’ amazing team of doctors immediately put her on a schedule of 54 weeks of chemotherapy. Her cancer was described as a rare and very aggressive type so the schedule for chemotherapy would ultimately be just as aggressive. In the beginning, things seemed normal. Alexis looked and acted like a normal twelve-year-old girl. She would go outside and play all day, eat normally, sleep normal hours and continued to do all the things she loved in her life. Her mom recounts that you would never know the war her body was fighting. Alexis has fought hard through the past 21 weeks of chemotherapy. There have been many emergency room visits late into the night for fevers and were some of the toughest times they have experienced. Alexis’ fear of the emergency room still carries over to this day and her Mom feels dread when she hears the word fever. Alexis’ mom says she likes to think that they are currently in the “easy” phase of her treatment, but there will come a time soon where Alexis will have to go through the fever stage again. Her parents know that Alexis is stronger than anyone they have ever met and she will persevere.

Some of Alexis’ “loves” are running cross country, playing piano, being outside, and dabbling in photography and videography. Alexis’ goals are to have a high GPA, go to college, get better at playing the piano, get healthy, and work at being able to run five miles. Her interests include volunteering for playground revitalizations, gardening, and learning about interior design. Her parents describe her personality as being very independent, outgoing, a definite role model to others, funny, and hard working. The diagnosis has changed her life in the way that she is not able to do all the things that she loves, like cross country for example. Alexis has found another way to still be a part of that world without running and that is by volunteering at cross country events. She gives back to the community and others with her support. She is truly an inspiration!

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of sarcoma, which is cancer of soft tissue (such as muscle), connective tissue (such as tendon or cartilage), or bone. Rhabdomyosarcoma usually begins in muscles that are attached to bones and that help the body move. Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common type of soft tissue sarcoma in children. Approximately 3% of all childhood cancers are Rhabdomyosarcomas. About 400 to 500 new cases of rhabdomyosarcoma occur each year in the United States.

Through your generous donations, Runway to Hope is honored to be able to help families like Alexis’s family by assisting with monthly bills such as mortgage, electricity, and gas cards. The bills paid by the Runway to Hope Family Assistance Program helps to alleviate the financial burden that a family might find themselves in after a new diagnosis. Runway to Hope was also able to give Alexis and her family a day at Disney World to spend quality time together, through the generous gift of Disney tickets given to Runway to Hope by AdventHealth for Children. Alexis is excited to be a part of the Adam Michael Rosen presents Runway to Hope Spring Soiree for the first time this year!

Runway to Hope / 189 South Orange Avenue, Suite 1800 / Orlando, FL 32801 / 407.802.1544