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“Mia was super-happy, positive, and enthusiastic to try anything,” recalls Elisa, Mia’s mom.
Born in Italy, Mia was quick to pick up both Italian and English, moving between the two languages effortlessly. And she absolutely adored Italian food.
When Mia was in second grade, the family moved to the United States. At school she met Avery and Emily and was a wonderful friend.
“We were an instant trio with a very close friendship,” Avery and Emily recall.
When Mia was 9, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a form of cancer that impacts the bone marrow and blood and progresses rapidly.
“We were scared and nervous when we learned of Mia’s cancer,” say Avery and Emily. “But we knew we had to remain strong for her. Mia’s chemotherapy treatment started at Valley Children’s Hospital. It was during this time that the original ‘Team Mia’ was born. We were committed to Mia and wanted to do all we could to help raise money to support her family as they fought her cancer. We sold bracelets, hosted bake sales, and organized a blood drive.”
In 2015, Mia’s family temporarily moved from their home in Central California to Palo Alto so Mia could receive a stem cell transplant at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Mia’s care included intensive treatment and isolation for nearly a year.
Child life specialists and art therapists visited Mia and her family and keep their spirits high. Mia and her younger sister, Eva, would pass the time by “glamming” care team members’ badges with stickers and sparkles in exchange for goodies like nail polish the nurses gathered from the Ronald McDonald House cart. Eva spent a lot of time in the hospital supporting her sister and decorated her own wheelchair to get around the halls. Nurses would leave Eva surprises on her embellished wheelchair, ensuring she felt cared for, too.
“The nurses on the stem cell unit went so far beyond their shift and their job descriptions to do special things,” Elisa says with gratitude.
To prepare Mia to receive the transplant, her immune system was depleted. As a result, she faced many infections and challenges.
“Mia always handled the difficult aspects of treatment with bravery,” Elisa says. “She was always willing to take whatever treatment. She wanted to survive and such a positive outlook.”
Sadly, Mia was among the percentage of children for whom current treatments are not successful. She passed away in June 2016, and her family and friends were devastated.
Now in high school, Mia’s classmates Emily and Avery continue their work through Team Mia as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Student Visionaries of the Year fundraising campaign. Their goal is to raise money to help fund important, targeted research that will improve treatment options for pediatric cancer patients, giving better chances of survival for kids in the future. You can support Avery and Emily’s work on behalf of Team Mia.
Thank you, Avery and Emily, for honoring Mia through your efforts! And thank you to donors who support the care and research taking place at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Together we are all working toward a future where no child faces cancer.