Every year, we like to share the story of one of our Lending Hearts friends. This year, we would like you to meet our friend, Leo. Leo is eight years old and was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) in April 2016.
Leo's mom so beautifully shared his story:
Leo was a happy, healthy, and very smart little boy. After he had been complaining of arm pain, we took him to the pediatrician, where he underwent x-rays and lab work. That evening while getting ready for bed, the doctor called, telling us to take Leo to the emergency room immediately for a blood transfusion. Leo's hemoglobin was so low, the doctor didn't know how Leo walked into the office that day. The day before he was hitting baseballs!
After hours in the emergency room and getting stuck nine times for blood draws and IV placements, an oncologist informed us there were abnormal cells in Leo's blood. They were not sure what we were dealing with, but it could be cancer. As a parent, that brought us to our knees, and our life was changed.
Since his diagnosis, Leo has had chemo at least once a week or more, multiple blood transfusions due to low counts and has been admitted to the hospital many times for fevers and seizures. It has been a long three and a half years, but Leo is one of the toughest kids we have ever seen! Through every needle stick, test and procedure, he stays strong and amazingly happy. Thankfully, Leo ended treatment in June of this year, and he has been off treatment for about four months.
We are forever grateful to be a Lending Hearts family. The activities provided through Lending Hearts helped keep a smile on Leo's face and helped our family to experience amazing moments during some of the hardest times of our lives. We are thankful for the continued support of Lending Hearts, even after treatment has ended, and we love seeing other Lending Hearts families whom we have grown close with over the years.
Through the generosity and kindness of Lending Hearts, Leo has attended Pirates baseball games, the Holiday Pops with the Pittsburgh Orchestra, painting of the Clemente mural, and many other fun activities and experiences. Leo loves looking forward to the next event and is always excited to see what is coming up!
We are extremely grateful to be able to offer all of our services free of charge. Leo and his family—like all our Lending Hearts families—have experienced the social & emotional support our monthly experiences, and over the past year, 28% more families like Leo's have become part of the Lending Hearts family. The number of families benefiting from our UP Street, integrative oncology wellness program, increased by 112%. Through nutrition lessons, yoga, mindfulness, aromatherapy and massage, patients at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh are able to survive the impact of cancer and experience less pain, anxiety and stress.
Join us in lending your heart and helping others like Leo and his family experience joy and peace at such a difficult time. A donation of $50 will help Lending Hearts continue to provide children and young adults like Leo with invaluable community and wellness support in their time of need. 100% of your donation directly impacts surviving treatment for pediatric oncology patients & families.
Help a child know they are not fighting this battle alone. Your gift of $50 makes a positive impact on the lives of young patients who are diagnosed with cancer and allows a family to share in a community filled with comfort and hope.
Vasso E. Paliouras
Founder & Executive Director, Lending Hearts