As an 11th grader at Biloxi High School, Lauren was your typical teenage girl, focused on work, school and her future. She was forward thinking, taking Technical classes for early childhood development to jump start her college career.
One day, Lauren noticed that it was painful for her to sit. Over the course of a couple of weeks, the pain levels increased. After an x-ray and anti-inflammatory medication, she noticed that it was getting worse.
At the third Doctor’s visit, a Cat Scan was finally performed and they found a tumor. On February 18th, a biopsy was done and Lauren was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer which forms in the soft tissues.
Lauren’s mom, Erin recalled, “Cancer was the furthest thing from our minds at that time. My child had a panicked look in her eyes and asked, ‘Mom, I am not going to die, am I?’ I said no, but I didn’t know.” Almost immediately after the diagnosis, they were on a flight headed to St. Jude’s Hospital for treatment. Because the cancer was so rare, they went to St. Jude to join a Research Study Group. Where they started treatments immediately. What they thought was going to be a week and half stay, turned into a year and half.
They made it home occasionally throughout their time at St. Jude, but it wasn’t enough. Lauren became depressed, she missed her whole senior year, homecoming, pep rallies, prom and graduation. She also lost a good friend she had made at St. Jude that was also diagnosed
with the same cancer as her. Her case worker, Beverly referred them to Make-A-Wish. Wishes have been known to give children like Lauren, hope for a future and strength to endure treatments.
Lauren knew what she wanted her wish to be immediately. As a little girl, she made up her mind that one day she would go to Paris and see the Eiffel Tower. Lauren had a passion for shopping, fashion and make-up. “For years, she told her Aunt Linda that she was going to live in Paris one day. When Lauren received the news that her wish was being granted, the impact left her stunned. Being told she was going to Paris changed Lauren’s attitude while finishing up her treatment! She went from just taking it day-by-day, with nothing to excite her, to smiling and planning her trip of a lifetime. “For the whole family, it was such an amazing trip. We rarely had the whole crew together during the treatment period at St. Jude and we hadn’t been able to take a trip as a family in quite some time. I believe being able to take a trip to Paris brought us closer, especially Lauren and her sister.” – Erin
Lauren will soon attend college in Indiana and continues to find hope, strength and joy through the memories of her Paris adventure.