Laila’s Story

It is undeniable that at the age of 9 months old, little Laila was absolutely adorable. Unfortunately, it was also undeniable that this sweet little girl was fighting the biggest fight imaginable – cancer.

On March 20, 2013, Laila was diagnosed with astrocytoma of the spinal cord. Just two days later, she endured a 12-hour surgery and was then discharged to the PICU at Nationwide Children’s for a few days. She completed her two-week stay at the hospital on the Hematology/Oncology Unit.

She may have been small, but Laila’s determination was big. She was not expected to be able to walk, but at 1-½ years old, she did just that. She underwent a year of weekly chemotherapy treatments, numerous MRI’s, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and so much more.

Unfortunately, cancer is not limited to adults. In fact, cancer is the leading cause of death due to disease in children under age 15, with a new patient diagnosed about every half hour in the United States. The types of cancer in children are different than those in adults. Adults most commonly suffer from lung, breast, colon and prostate cancer. Children suffer from leukemia, brain tumors, neuroblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma and many others.

The types of treatments for children are quite different than for adults. We are fortunate to have been successful in figuring out how to successfully treat some cancers like lymphoid leukemia, retinoblastoma (eye cancer), and Wilms tumor (kidney cancer). Even when we are successful with the other cancer types, patients often suffer long-term side effects of treatment. For these reasons, Nationwide Children’s is committed to continuing its research concerning childhood cancers. Because there are so many adults with cancer, most of the research budgets of the National Cancer Institute and the pharmaceutical industry are directed toward adult cancers. Thus, we need the support of private foundations and donors to sustain research and make advances in treating childhood cancer.

“Nationwide Children’s is not just a hospital, it’s s a place not only did I call home, but Laila called home for a while. Nationwide Children’s, her Oncology team, and Dr. Jackson, saved my daughter’s life,” says Laila’s mom, Sasha.

Today, 4-year-old Laila loves to spend time with her horse, Goldie, taking dance class, and playing outside with her brother. And she absolutely adores Walt Disney princesses. “She is the strongest person I know. She is just as happy as can be.  She is my shining star – my hero,” says Sasha.

And little Laila will be a hero too for all the participants she cheers on as they pass through her mile during the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon.

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It is undeniable that at the age of 9 months old, little Laila was absolutely adorable. Unfortunately, it was also undeniable that this sweet little girl was fighting the biggest fight imaginable – cancer.

On March 20, 2013, Laila was diagnosed with astrocytoma of the spinal cord. Just two days later, she endured a 12-hour surgery and was then discharged to the PICU at Nationwide Children’s for a few days. She completed her two-week stay at the hospital on the Hematology/Oncology Unit.

She may have been small, but Laila’s determination was big. She was not expected to be able to walk, but at 1-½ years old, she did just that. She underwent a year of weekly chemotherapy treatments, numerous MRI’s, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and so much more.

Unfortunately, cancer is not limited to adults. In fact, cancer is the leading cause of death due to disease in children under age 15, with a new patient diagnosed about every half hour in the United States. The types of cancer in children are different than those in adults. Adults most commonly suffer from lung, breast, colon and prostate cancer. Children suffer from leukemia, brain tumors, neuroblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, Ewing sarcoma and many others.

The types of treatments for children are quite different than for adults. We are fortunate to have been successful in figuring out how to successfully treat some cancers like lymphoid leukemia, retinoblastoma (eye cancer), and Wilms tumor (kidney cancer). Even when we are successful with the other cancer types, patients often suffer long-term side effects of treatment. For these reasons, Nationwide Children’s is committed to continuing its research concerning childhood cancers. Because there are so many adults with cancer, most of the research budgets of the National Cancer Institute and the pharmaceutical industry are directed toward adult cancers. Thus, we need the support of private foundations and donors to sustain research and make advances in treating childhood cancer.

“Nationwide Children’s is not just a hospital, it’s s a place not only did I call home, but Laila called home for a while. Nationwide Children’s, her Oncology team, and Dr. Jackson, saved my daughter’s life,” says Laila’s mom, Sasha.

Today, 4-year-old Laila loves to spend time with her horse, Goldie, taking dance class, and playing outside with her brother. And she absolutely adores Walt Disney princesses. “She is the strongest person I know. She is just as happy as can be.  She is my shining star – my hero,” says Sasha.

And little Laila will be a hero too for all the participants she cheers on as they pass through her mile during the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon & ½ Marathon.

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