I created this Latina Still Standing Blog to inspire Latinas!!! To let them know they don't have to give up. No matter how hard life gets, we can stay strong and never give up -- through our Faith, Family and Friends, we can and will remain standing!!!
I know most mothers in general are usually very protective of
their children – but there is something about a Latina mother and protecting
her “ninos y ninas.” There is also something to be said about a mother’s
That is what Jennie Flores did when her little girl Kailah,
who was just 7 years old at the time, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia
(AML), one of the most aggressive forms of leukemia.
It started with very vague symptoms, she said, like Kailah
losing weight, but Jennie just thought, maybe it’s because she is starting to
stretch out and she’s getting taller. Then she noticed her daughter was
sleeping a little more than usual, but again she dismissed it, since these were
She also started noticing bruises on Kailah’s body about one
month before Kailah’s diagnosis. Jennie says when she would ask her about them
and she always had an answer for each bruise, like she had fallen.
Then the bruises began appearing more frequently and Kailah
started having stomach aches. That’s when her mother’s intuition started to kick
in and tell her something wasn’t right. Leukemia actually came to Jennie’s
mind, because a year earlier she had read the book and seen the movie “My
Sister’s Keeper” about a little girl who had the illness.
She remembered all of the symptoms the girl had in the book,
which seemed to match Kailah’s. Once again, she dismissed her gut feelings,
thinking she was just being overprotective. She said she hoped and prayed it wasn’t
Then one day she saw a bigger bruise on Kailah’s back, near
her spine. That is when she called her husband at work and said, “Come home now,
I think something is really wrong with Kailah.”
Her husband immediately rushed home and asked Kailah how she
was feeling. She replied she felt fine and nothing was wrong. He tried to calm his
wife down and reassure her, telling her Kailah was fine. At this point, Jennie
was extremely upset and in tears.
“I think Kailah could have leukemia,” she blurted out. She went on to explain about seeing the movie
and reading the book “My Sister’s Keeper”. Like any father would, he became highly
upset and said affirmatively, “NO! My daughter doesn’t have leukemia.”
They agreed she would take their daughter to the doctor, but
when she pulled up to her regular primary doctor’s office, something in every
fiber of her being told her to take Kailah to the ER. Thankfully her mother’s
intuition won that battle.
On July 15, 2010, she drove away from the regular primary
care doctor’s office and she went straight to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital
emergency room. Within a half-hour her blood test came back irregular.
Two hours later they sat Jennie and her husband down and
told them their daughter Kailah had leukemia. She was diagnosed on a Friday,
but her preliminary bone marrow aspiration test results didn’t come back until
Sunday. As if that wasn’t bad enough,
they were told Kailah did not have the more treatable childhood leukemia but the
more aggressive form, Acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The doctors told the family
the type of leukemia she had only 10 percent of people who get it are children,
and it’s more common in adults.
After five rounds of intense chemotherapy for nine months, Kailah
suffered several side-effects, including losing all of her hair, but she took
it in stride and to help her feel better, some of her cousins cut their hair
short and donated it to locks of love. And her father also shaved his head
Jennie says she considers herself extremely blessed to be born
to a great strong Hispanic family and to a father who had to overcame a lot of
obstacles in his life and it was his role model of strength that really helped
her get through this difficult time. She was also overwhelmed and grateful for
the tremendous outpouring of generosity from all of her family and friends
during this tough battle. They gave her strength.
Jennie fought against not listening to her gut and she
fought for her daughter’s life. And with the help of her faith, family and
friends, her daughter is alive, and 100 percent cancer-free!
Kailah has been in remission for 18 months – since March
2011. Now Jennie and her daughter spend a lot of their time volunteering, educating
and advocating for this cause.