A SWEET GIRL'S FIGHT AGAINST LEUKEMIA

Gardenia is someone I started noticing the more I would come around Family House. She has a beautiful smile and a great spirit. I happened to be in the Family House lobby when I found out the family I was about to photograph had to go to the hospital last minute. Gardenia and her family walked by at the same moment and the staff at Family House told her she had to get her photo taken, especially since she was wearing a stunning dress and her family was all together. I was so honored to take these photos and to be a small part of their story.

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Gardenia was diagnosed on 4-17-2015 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She was four years old. Dealing with her diagnosis was so difficult. Leukemia was something you just read about but never did we imagine that we would have to live it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever witnessed in my life. Having to see my daughter undergo aggressive chemotherapy completely shattered my soul. We’ve witnessed vomiting, hair loss, weight loss and her having no energy to walk. We as a family tried to stay strong for her all while we were breaking.
— Mimi Loya, Gardenia's mom
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On April 15, 2016 we underwent a haploidentical transplant, which is a donor from a sibling, mother or father. The transplant was because she took too long to reach remission & was considered high risk for her Leukemia returning later in life. I was fortunate enough to be her donor. We are still dealing with the after effects of transplant. Benioff children’s hospital has wanted to continue to watch Gardenia close. She is the second one here in San Francisco to receive this transplant so she’s basically being studied. Gardenia has tons of good days & some days she just can’t move. My hopes for her is to recover & be able to live a life that most kids take for granted.
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My advice for the next family would be to stay strong & push their child to get better. I’m a firm believer that if we as parents give into any illnesses that it naturally scares the child to not want to push. It’s been a long road & I know with faith this journey will one day be a story that we all look back on.