Wall of Hope: Stories of Courage & Inspiration
Thirteen is a crucial coming-of-age period for many teenagers, and not many worry about being sick with cancer.
After complaining to her mom about bone aches and fatigue, Shannelle Baliguat-Lamoya was taken to the Emergency Department at Pali Momi Medical Center to have some tests done.
Less than 12 hours later, her mother, Debbie, was called by her primary care physician's office to come in before office hours.
"I knew in my heart that something was wrong," Debbie says.
It was during that conversation that Shannelle was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
"I was surprised," recalls Shannelle. "I didn't know a lot about cancer, and the only reason I knew about leukemia was because I learned about it in the movie 'A Walk to Remember.'"
Shannelle's PCP quickly made calls for her first inpatient appointment with the Pediatric Ambulatory Unit at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children.
"It was the beginning of an incredible, life-altering journey," Shannelle says.
She received treatment at Kapiolani for two years, which included chemotherapy, emergency stomach surgery, surgery for her Hickman and port, multiple spinal taps, CT scans and X-rays, as well as occupational, physical and speech therapy and healing touch.
She also received special visits from volunteers and Dr. Wendi Major and Tucker, the late Chief Canine Officer.
"The love and support I got from everyone at Kapiolani was amazing," Shannelle recalls. "They loved me like family. They supported me through my lowest lows and cheered me on during my greatest accomplishments. Kapiolani is truly my home away from home."
Today, Shannelle still receives long-term medical care every two months for blood tests and follow-up appointments.
She is a senior in high school and plans on going to college to become a pediatric oncologist to help children and families that are experiencing situations similar to her own.
"I want to encourage and share with these brave children that we are in this together," she says. "I have learned that helping others is good for the receiver but also good for the giver's spirit, heart and smile. That warm and fuzzy feeling confirms that you are truly living life."
Published on: October 19, 2018