Warrior Of The Week

Cancer Warrior, Aria Morris

Each week, Fourth and Gold will highlight a cancer warrior that has bravely and fiercely stood strong against childhood cancer. At Fourth and Gold, we want you to see the faces behind our drive and connect with them in a way you wouldn’t have been able to if you didn’t take the stand to demand #MoreThan4! Our precious kids have cancer, but cancer is not who they are.

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Aria, aka bug a boo, diagnosed with Philadelphia Chromosome Positive (PH+) Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (a rare type of ALL that affects 3-5% of the individuals who are diagnosed) at 4 years of age

Current age: 5, DOB (12/16/12)

Favorite things: Aria’s most favorite thing to do is to play with her littlest pet shop (LPS). She also loves to sing and dance. Aria has a love for outdoors and adventures. Put that girl outside on her swing set or take her to a theme park to ride the fastest ride possible and she’s likely to have the best day ever!

Favorite foods: Aria loves spaghetti and meatballs… and for a snack? Queso from Moe’s is the way to this little girls heart!

If you know Aria you know that she: Is constantly smiling! She has the biggest, most beautiful smile. Aria is super spunky and is always up for some kind of an adventure!

What you cannot see here is that Aria has undergone:

  • Treatment for an entire year as of May 16th
  • She’s had several procedures under anesthesia (LP’s, bone marrow biopsys, line placements)
  • Received over 40 chemo shots
  • Has taken hundreds of oral chemo pills
  • Has had “seemingly endless” IV chemos
  • Lost her hair
  • Lost the ability of being a normal 4/5 year old little girl 
  • Aria STILL has 1.5 YEARS left on treatment which will include 7 more LP’s (under sedation), 10 chemo shots, different oral chemos and will remain on Dasatanib (oral chemo) at home, with no definitive end date. 

Melissa Morris (Aria’s mom) on the hardest part of having a child with cancer: “For us, there are so many hard things about Aria having cancer. What does her future hold? Will she stay in remission? Will she have side effects down the line from these medications? We also hate the things she is going through. No one loves to see their child poked and prodded or help hold them down to get their port accessed etc. We hate knowing she’s missed out on things. Aria hates having to get her port accessed, any needle pokes, and having to take so many medications.”

Melissa on what she wishes people knew about Childhood Cancer: “Most importantly it’s NOT rare and so underfunded. That having to explain to your child that they have cancer is the hardest thing a parent ever has to do.”

Biggest change since diagnosis: “The biggest change….well we’ve made new friends (both fellow warriors and the nurses/doctors) and we’ve learned to really value one another. We also live life a little more free and to not take things so seriously.”

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If you’ve been keeping up with Fourth and Gold, you’ve probably picked up on the statement that every family has made regarding childhood cancer… it is NOT rare and it is UNDERFUNDED. If you are new to our blog, please let me explain to you what it means for a child to get diagnosed with childhood cancer. A child that gets diagnosed with childhood cancer has limited options. Once a diagnosis is received, the child will start on a regimen implemented by COG (Children’s Oncology Group). The regimens are LIMITED. Why? BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT ONLY GIVES CHILDHOOD CANCER FOUR PERCENT OF ALL CANCER RESEARCH FUNDS TO KIDS. If a child does not achieve remission after the first few rounds of chemotherapy, their survival chances decline tremendously. Why? Because there are FEW options left. Why? Because the FUNDING is basically non-existent. DIPG, a non-operative childhood cancer brain tumor has NO cure and has a 0% survival rate. ZERO. You think it’s rare? THREE kids passed away on Mother’s Day from DIPG… three. 

Because Aria has a PH+ ALL, her treatment is extended longer than the typical ALL so that she STAYS in remission. By the time Aria “finishes” treatment, she will have been on Chemo for 3 YEARS. Chemotherapy plummets a child’s immune system, causing them more prone to infections, viruses and illnesses. 

We want you to really get to know the personalities of our WARRIORS, like Aria. We want you to be moved enough that you want to help make a difference in the world of childhood cancer. I believe with my whole heart that it’s not that we are turning a blind eye to childhood cancer, it’s that people haven’t been educated enough. That’s why I ask and encourage you to spread awareness on the reality of childhood cancer. Demand MORE THAN FOUR, because Aria deserves it. And the children in your life deserve it. The future of this world, the children… deserve more than 4. 

“About 60% of all funding for drug development in adult cancers comes from pharmaceutical companies. For kids? Almost NONE… because childhood cancer’s aren’t profitable”

I encourage you, so strongly, to PLEASE visit https://www.stbaldricks.org/filling-the-funding-gap/ on ways you can help. St. Baldrick’s is a WONDERFUL, honest organization that shows you where your money goes and how you can help in other ways. 

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#MoreThan4 #NotRare #AriasArmy

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