When Samantha’s daughter, Ryan, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at age 5, she wasn’t sure who would understand what they were going through. Following her diagnosis, Ryan was admitted to the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s, a place she would call home for the next five weeks. Little did Ryan know that after only one day at CHOC, she would gain a friendship that will last a lifetime.
At the same time, Leigh Anne’s 5-year-old daughter, Emma, was undergoing treatment at CHOC for ALL. Samantha and Leigh Anne would huddle outside their children’s rooms in the middle of the night, drinking coffee and forming support groups.
The day Ryan and Emma met was very memorable to both girls; it was Ryan’s first day and Emma’s last. It was during this time that Ryan and Emma quickly bonded over their diagnosis. The girls would hold hands and walk the halls together, whispering about their doctors and what they hoped to get from the prize chest. According to their mothers, there was an intrinsic understanding between the two.
“The girls were like kindred spirits; they felt more comfortable around each other, which made receiving treatment easier,” noted Samantha. “It’s like, ‘she has a port, and so do I. She has no hair, neither do I.’ Commonality forms a bond.”
“They felt as though this was their journey and they were in it together,” added Leigh Anne.
Today, both girls are on the path to recovery and are receiving routine checkups and treatment at CHOC Children’s Outpatient Infusion Center (OPI), where they even plan their appointments around each other so they can spend time together. Although they only spent one day together during their time at CHOC, it’s been over a year since that initial meeting, and they still have a special bond.
Emma and Ryan, as well as their moms, will always be grateful for the life-saving treatment they received at CHOC, and thankful for the life-long friendship they made because of it.
CHOC Hospital was named one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in its 2020-21 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings and ranked in the cancer specialty.