2023 Honored Patient: Neriah
Almost two years ago, Gabriel and Geno took their then five-year old daughter Neriah shopping to buy a big girl desk for her bedroom. While at the furniture store, Neriah said she was not feeling well and on the car ride home felt nauseous. The following Monday as she was getting ready for school, Neriah again started feeling nauseous. So out of character for her, Gabriel and Geno took Neriah to see their primary doctor. As part of the routine check up (so they thought), several labs were taken including bloodwork. Those initial results showed some concerning abnormalities with doctors telling the family it would take several days to receive definite feedback on what they were seeing.
The next day, while still waiting on the lab results, Neriah still was not feeling well so they decided to take her to the emergency room at Children’s Minnesota for another opinion and set of labs. They were discharged later that day, but on October 27, Gabriel and Geno received the call no parent ever wants to get as the labs at Children’s Minnesota showed signs of leukemia and they insisted the family bring Neriah back immediately so they could start treatments that day.
Neriah was soon diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The start of the treatment was intense. She had several weekly clinic and hospital visits, including spending days at a time in the hospital. Once we returned home, the treatments compromised Neriah's cell counts, making her susceptible to infection and illness. Whenever Neriah spiked fevers, they called the 24-hour helpline which always ended up with a trip to the ER as it was imperative that Neriah was seen right away. The on-call staff at Children’s was amazing as they would already have called in orders so they were ready for us when we arrived.
Neriah’s treatment has had several phases in which so much is being done and there are so many things to consider - none of which is easy. During this journey, the team at Children's Minnesota has been warm and welcoming, from the front desk staff to the nurses, Child Life, social workers, PT/OT, doctors and nurse practitioners and her dietician Rachel have all worked together seamlessly not only to treat Neriah but make us feel seen and heard every step of the way. Knowing that we have a great team of professionals helping us makes the weight we carry while on this journey a little lighter.
We have been so fortunate to have such incredible families, friends, and colleagues supporting us in this journey and providing needed emotional support and spiritual encouragement. We also appreciate the incredible staff at Children's Minnesota for its help and support in navigating this journey.
Neriah is now in the maintenance phase, still receiving ongoing treatments. She has returned to school and just took her first dance classes last year.
“Through the challenges of this journey, Neriah has shown great courage,” Gabriel and Geno said. “She is one of a kind, with a smile that melts our hearts. Her strength and determination are like no other because she has taken on this challenge head-on, with confidence and a willingness to overcome through hard work and persistence.”
God bless and keep you, Neriah.