What a difference two years can make. For four little girls, two years brought them friendship, health, and hair, and all of that is evident in sweet before-and-after photos shared by the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla.
McKinley, Chloe, Ava, and Lauren were all diagnosed with cancer and were being treated at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital two years ago. According to the Daily Mail, the 4- and 5-year-old girls met by chance at the hospital in September 2016, which happens to be Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. At the time, doctors gave them all pink tutus to lift their spirits during their treatment.
They took a photo together with big smiles and even bigger tutus but a small amount of hair on each of their little heads. “They were all on active treatment the first time we did this,” Ava’s mom, Alyssa Luciano, told Fox 13 in Tampa. Chloe had a rare form of lung cancer, while Ava, Lauren, and McKinley were all diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which has a five-year survival rate of 85 percent.
While it was an understandably scary time for the little girls, they found comfort in each other. “She’s 3 years old and doesn’t have any hair, but all of her friends in the hospital look the same way, so it kind of gave her some normalcy,” Shawna Glynn, Lauren’s mom, told Fox 13.
“It was just always a breath of fresh air to see a familiar face and to know that she wasn’t alone in this,” McKinley’s mom, Karen Moore, added. “Once your child has cancer, it’s hard to imagine a ‘normal’ life again,” Luciano told the Daily Mail. She described the feeling as “surreal” and “even more special when it’s with her sweet friends that she grew close with while they were all so very sick.”
According to the news station, the four girls “vowed to stay together forever.” And they kept that promise a year later, returning to celebrate their remission and take that same photo in September 2017.
They did it again in 2018, and this time around was the most celebratory yet, since all the girls are officially cancer-free, with Lauren being the last to join the club. “We’re done,” Glynn gushed to Fox. “She just rang the bell to signify that she has completed her treatment this past Monday.”
They put on new tutus and shirts that said “survivor” and jumped around for an extra-special photo shoot. “This is our third year. They have just come so far, all of them,” Glynn told Fox.
Doctors told the Daily Mail that “the girls have flourished as they have regained strength.”
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