Parents of 13-Year-Old Girl Find Out She Has Leukemia After Being Diagnosed with COVID-19

Jen Juneau
·4 min read

GoFundMe Ariel Griffith

Ariel Griffith's family got some extra-difficult news after learning the 13-year-old had sepsis and coronavirus: She also has leukemia.

Ariel's mother, Lauren Hocin, opened up about her daughter's medical issues to TODAY Health, revealing that Ariel was "vomiting and throwing up" on Dec. 8 and the family assumed she had contracted COVID-19, since her stepfather had tested positive for the virus a week before.

"I noticed when I went to wake her, her face looked swollen," Hocin said. "It was in her lymph-node area. I said, 'That doesn't look right.' Ariel said she had noticed it but was afraid to tell anyone. It had been like that for weeks."

The young honor student and basketball player went to a doctor a few days later, when she learned she had leukemia. And despite receiving devastating news, Hocin is "thankful" for the physician who saw her daughter.

"Instead of saying, 'Your lymph nodes are swollen because of coronavirus,' she insisted on a blood test," Hocin recalled to TODAY Health. "It came back that her white blood cell count was very low, along with platelets, and she was sent to the emergency room."

GoFundMe Ariel Griffith

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According to TODAY Health, Ariel started chemotherapy last Friday. Hocin gave an update on her daughter's progress over the weekend on her Facebook and Ariel's GoFundMe page, which had raised about half of the family's $50,000 goal as of Monday afternoon.

"Sadness has definitely taken over but I have to remind myself 'small miracles.' I cannot even begin to tell you how many signs from God I've seen in the last few days, without a single doubt, and many of you have shown me over and over and over again," Hocin wrote.

The mother of three went on to say that Ariel "is doing ok" but "fighting for her life" too. "She's still on the ventilator & they have added a feeding tube which she is responding well to," Hocin continued. "Her lungs aren't strong enough to breathe on her own, they tried to wean off some of the meds to see how she did & she did not respond well so she's right back on the meds to be completely asleep. However! This just means she needs more time for her lungs to heal & that's ok. She has GOT to beat COVID so she can beat leukemia."

"She made some improvements today," Hocin wrote. "Although her temperature fluctuates, she finally broke her fever & her blood is looking better which is a relief. She's not out of the woods but she is stable & THAT is the best news we can hear for right now, baby steps. It's going to be a process & that's ok. I have patience for our Ariel to take the time she needs to beat all of this."

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Criss Angel's son Johnny Crisstopher was diagnosed with leukemia in 2015

In a Sunday update on Facebook, Hocin said her daughter was "a little swollen today because of the chemo but it's doing its job flushing out the cancer from her blood."

"This is putting some stress on her lungs so I pray that calms in the next few days. She also had another blood transfusion today to help her blood cells but overall, nothing alarming. Just so much going on all at once for her to bounce back from but I'm being told she's a tough cookie," she continued. "I believe that wholeheartedly."

Hocin told TODAY Health that this experience "has been a roller coaster ... but to see she has some improvements [is] a mother's dream. She is on a ventilator. A machine is breathing for her. They tried to wake her up the other day and she didn't handle it well. She had coughing fits. Seeing she is improving means the world to me."

As for her inspiration in sharing her daughter journey, "Ariel's story is going to help other people," Hocin said. "We are in pieces over the support we have gotten. Our neighbors are delivering things every day. I can't even begin to describe the amount of support we have had. I just can't tell you what it will create in me to do with others. This is breeding an even bigger passion in me to help other moms going through the same thing."

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