Although Alexis is only 9 years old, cancer has been a part of her young life for nearly three years.
It was in May of 2014 that the Lincoln Elementary School student was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumor. The diagnosis was a tough one to hear for Alexis and her family. This type of pediatric cancer originates in the kidneys and primarily occurs in children younger than 5 years old. It also has the terrifying ability to spread to other parts of the body.
Alexis underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and spent roughly a year without any evidence of the disease. In March 2016, her family got the news that nobody wanted to hear – she would have to fight cancer again.
This time, it is in her lungs.
The second diagnosis meant another round of commutes to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Long trips from Jamestown to Buffalo for treatment are not easy, but Alexis likes to pass her time by listening to her favorite musician, Katy Perry, or even reading about the singer. She also enjoys cheerleading and when she is well enough, playing soccer. The effects of her treatment can sometimes make physical activity impossible.
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For now, Alexis and her family are commuting back to Roswell Park, fighting for the second time, but the fourth grade student is far from alone in her journey. She recalls on one occasion that she returned to school to find that all of Lincoln Elementary was clad in purple – her favorite color – to show their support.
“Even the boys dressed in purple,” said Alexis with a smile.
Despite her treatments and difficulties, Alexis radiates love and joy. She adores her pets and helps care for five dogs, two cats, a guinea pig and a hamster. All of those furry friends might help Alexis prepare for a career someday, as she either wants to be a veterinarian or a pediatrician.
“I like babies and I love animals,” she said.
Her adoration for animals is far from the only thing that defines Alexis. She says that the first thing most people notice about her is her smile or her eyes – which are a unique shade of amber – but her mom says it’s her character that truly stands out.
“She doesn’t have a mean bone in her whole body,” she said. “She always tries to make other people happy. She’ll give up things just to do that.”
It’s no surprise given her bubbly attitude and kind disposition, but Alexis says that she makes friends easily and loves to spend time with them.
In fall 2016, Alexis joined the Survivor Squad, a group of survivors who share their cancer stories with Goin’ Bald for Bucks participants to help educate them on the challenges that come with a cancer diagnosis. Goin’ Bald for Bucks is a fundraising program that challenges individuals and schools to cut their hair or shave their heads while raising money for the fight against cancer at Roswell Park.
The young fighter, along with her family and her doctors and nurses at Roswell Park are doing all they can to get Alexis back to cheerleading, soccer, her friends and a happy, healthy childhood.