“Her strength is my strength,” Kaia’s father, Demetrius, says in explaining how his 8-year-old daughter’s courage in battling leukemia has sustained him from the shock of her diagnosis last year through the hospital stays and chemotherapy that have followed.
After intensive initial therapy, Kaia is taking oral chemotherapy at home between hospital-based treatments that will continue for three years. “I feel good except in the mornings. I cry in the mornings,” the cheerful young girl says of the impact of treatment side effects.
“We’re a team. We’re in this together.”
“It feels like forever,” her mother, Darlene, says of the months since their pediatrician called at 5 a.m. last April to say that lab results showed abnormalities in Kaia’s white blood count and that they needed to go to HackensackUMC’s Pediatric Emergency Department that morning. Her husband adds, “It’s a shock, because you go from having a 100 percent healthy child to a little girl who is terribly sick. Even now, she never really feels great, but you have to stay positive.”
Though they have a long road ahead, Demetrius, Darlene and Kaia are facing it with determination. “We’re a team. We’re in this together,” Demetrius says.