Aaliyah’s favorite saying is, “Never give up!” That constant positivity helps Aaliyah face life’s challenges, like being born with Down’s Syndrome, and battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. When Aaliyah was 12 years old, she received new braces on her teeth. But when her mouth continued to consistently bleed, her mom, Karen, knew something wasn’t right. Her dentist recognized the symptoms of leukemia, and immediately sent Aaliyah to the Children’s Hospital of Richmond (CHoR) at the VCU Health System, where she spent the next three months in the hospital. “I thought she had an infection, not cancer,” remembers Karen. “My world fell apart that day we got the blood test results.”
Almost immediately, staff from the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation contacted Karen to provide emotional, spiritual and financial support for the entire family.
"ASK folks knew exactly what she needed to help her through the most difficult days.”
“I was amazed by their generosity and willingness to help. They made sure there were fun distractions at clinic for her during blood transfusions. It was a small gesture, but made the world of difference through her treatment and hospitalizations. ASK folks knew exactly what she needed to help her through the most difficult days.”
Now, Aaliyah is a happy 16-year-old, working hard to regain her physical strength by participating in ASK’s Moving Forward partnership with the YMCA. “The almost three years of chemotherapy caused neuropathy in her fingers and feet. We are extremely blessed that this program exists for Aaliyah and all ASK kids because it’s not only improving her physical condition but giving her confidence and inspiration.” For more than a decade Moving Forward has provided additional physical training for cancer patients, their siblings and their parents. Each participant receives a 1:1 trainer who communicates directly with CHoR pediatric oncologists and physical therapists to determine individual needs and the best protocol for training. This program is available in Fredericksburg as well.
I can’t imagine going through this without ASK and all of the programs they provide for the entire family.”
“I can’t say enough about this phenomenal program,” says Karen. “We have seen great improvement in Aaliyah, and the fact that Moving Forward includes Aaliyah’s brother is incredible. He’s not left out of this and that’s important to him. I love that Moving Forward can take care of two kids with entirely different needs. I can’t imagine going through this without ASK and all of the programs they provide for the entire family.”