Five years ago, doctors gave Brianna an 11 percent chance of survival. Today, 17-year-old Brianna is in remission thanks to her will to live and the expert cancer care she received at Children’s Colorado.
“She has more strength and determination than anyone I know,” Brianna’s mom said. “She was a bull-headed little kid, which is what I think got her through everything she went through.”
At age 12, Brianna was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Originally diagnosed as mononucleosis, blood work revealed that Brianna’s white blood cell count was unusually high, indicating fast and aggressive leukemia. That same day, she was immediately admitted to the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCBD) at Children’s Colorado to start the first round of chemotherapy and surgery.
Brianna was in the hospital for six to 10 weeks at a time for chemotherapy. After three rounds, her doctors recommended a bone marrow transplant. Her little brother was a perfect match, and he wanted to help his sister. In 2009, Brianna received her transplant. She was released from the hospital for a few hours to enjoy the Fourth of July at home.
“The doctors and staff were amazing,” said Brianna’s mom. “I look back at it all now and it was just a blur. Everyone was patient, they never overwhelmed us and they always knew how much information we needed at a time, re-explaining when necessary.”
Brianna recently gave a speech at the Celebration of Life event at the CCBD to celebrate Cancer Survivors Day.
“The whole cancer department is great,” Brianna said. “They really know how to respond to different kids’ personalities and they find a way to connect.”
Brianna is a self-proclaimed outdoorsy girl who plans to go into a nursing program or study criminology. She would also like to continue her love of playing competitive softball.