In a world of fairy castles and unicorns little girls don’t get sick. They dress in sparkly gowns, wave magic wands and ride on rainbow colored ponies with butterfly wings. Unfortunately, in our world those same little girls often end up fighting not evil witches and black knights, but crueler foes like sickle cell disease, childhood cancer and leukemia. Joelle, JoJo to her family and friends, is one such girl. Diagnosed with leukemia, JoJo was in for the fight of her life at an early age.
The good news is JoJo is now in remission and has a promising future ahead of her. But her battle wasn’t an easy one. Childhood cancer, including leukemia, takes its toll on these patients. Even after they’re in remission, they have to continue treatment to ensure the cancer doesn’t come back. And the treatment itself is rough on the patient. Chemotherapy and radiation attacks not just the illness, but a lot of healthy tissue, too, including bone marrow where healthy blood cells are formed. Cancer patients often need platelets and red cells to replenish what they lose during their treatments. Dangerously low blood counts can also put off scheduled treatments, which also isn’t ideal for the patient. As part of their treatment, many cancer patients need blood and platelet transfusions. The only source for red cells and platelets is volunteer blood donors. JoJo is one of many cancer and leukemia patients who needed blood on a regular basis as she underwent her treatments. She didn’t want to have to have it. She didn’t put it on her wish list for Christmas. If you asked her for an honest answer, she would probably have told you she didn’t want the needle stuck in her arm any more than a prospective blood donor does. But her life depended on it, so she, like thousands of other children at Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital found the courage and endured. JoJo is an active and happy little girl today, thanks to the gifted medical staff at Batson, the prayers of her family and friends and the selfless gifts of love from total strangers who donated blood and platelets. JoJo and her family are truly thankful for blood donors. Please consider making a donation during the month of September for all Mississippians battling Leukemia and Lymphoma! JoJo’s is just one of so many examples of how you are TRULY making a difference in someone’s life by donating with Mississippi Blood Services!