Atma’s medical journey began in October of 2017. She had an intermittent dry cough especially during exercise. Her family was working with a doctor to treat what they thought was an allergy related cough. In mid-October, Atma started experiencing a little shortness of breath and more coughing after exercising. Her family thought she might be experiencing exercise induced asthma.
On Thursday afternoon, October 19th, her teacher called from school to say she was having trouble breathing and sitting out of games. Her parents picked her up from school where she was eating lunch, walking around and playing with her friends. They took her to the urgent care where they thought she had asthma until they looked at the chest X-ray. The family was told to go to the ER because her right lung was partially collapsed. Initially, the ER doctors thought she had pneumonia and would need to stay in the hospital on IV antibiotics for several days. Then, once her CAT scan results came back, they discovered cancer in her chest.
She was taken by ambulance to the pediatric ICU. There she received many different tests to confirm whether she had Leukemia or Lymphoma. The oncologist further reviewed her CAT scan results and determined that she had a tumor in the thoracic area of her chest with fluid building up around both the lung and the heart. They started administering a specific kind of chemotherapy to dissolve the tumor and reduce the fluid. She then had a bone marrow biopsy once the chemo had the desired effects. The biopsy helped them to determine the kind of cancer. Atma was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
Imagination is powerful. It is the beginning of the Make-A-Wish journey. A child's imagination is at the heart of everything we accomplish together. Imagination alone inspires, renews and entertains. We do everything we can to capture a child’s heartfelt wish and make it a reality. Every time 7-year-old Atma would get in the saddle at horse therapy, she let her imagination run wild. She dreamed of dressing up in a pretty white wedding dress and riding a horse in the sand to a picnic dinner on the beach. She imagined the feeling of the wind in her hair, slowly growing back after chemotherapy and an unimaginable battle with leukemia. Through this year of challenges, Atma has become fierce and powerful, needing gentle reminders that it is okay for her to just be a child at times.
At the beginning of the year, Atma’s wish came true. Atma, along with her parents and her best friend Ophelia, traveled to the beautiful and warm beaches of Hawaii for the experience of a lifetime. Nervous at first, Atma was gently reassured by her family and best friend Ophelia. She closed her eyes as the wonderful team Reveal Hair and Make-up made her feel beautiful. She put on the vintage lace "wedding dress" she'd picked out at home to wear for the occasion. And, soon, as she settled into the saddle, her imagination became reality, letting her know that anything is possible. One of our doctors has said, “It is possible that wishing enable[s] children to dream about something that seemed unobtainable, out of reach, and thus created an experience of achieving the impossible.” Atma’s most recent scans have come back with no detectable cancer in her bone marrow, she is cancer free!