By Sanford Children's Hospital

Aria loves to dance, is fascinated with birds and, before cancer changed her life, was so proud of her long, curly blond hair. Aria’s mom, Lacey, once thought it was a chore to comb through her golden locks. But a month into Aria’s chemo treatments for cancer, the tedious detangling became a reality check. One night, after her daily bath, lotion and jammies, Lacey started to gently brush Aria’s hair right into her hands. Hair strands caked the tub, layered the floor and stuck to Aria’s body.

“That’s when it hit me,” Lacey remembers. “As this hair kept streaming out of her head, getting all over her and me and coming out in piles, you could see her scalp clearly on top. The lump in my throat formed … this cancer is REAL and I lost it.”

Aria is one of many children fighting cancer at Sanford Children’s. Fortunately for Aria, she has an amazing support system around her, starting with her family. Once Aria’s hair started to fall out, her parents shaved all of their heads together!

Aria and her family have support at Sanford Children’s Hospital where Aria is currently getting treatment.

Aria’s prognosis is positive because her cancer – acute lymphoblastic leukemia – has a high survival rate, but Lacey says they are especially thankful for Aria’s Sanford Pediatric Oncologist Dr. Sam Milanovich.

“He’s so friendly and he keeps everything low key,” Lacey said. “He doesn’t really get all hyped up about things and he might say this could go wrong or this could happen, but says, ‘Just call me if it does.’”

Above all, Aria, her parents and now a new baby brother are in good hands because of the generous donors to Cure Kids Cancer at Sanford Children’s. Gifts to Children’s Miracle Network are used to purchase state-of-the-art equipment, expand programs, further research and offer direct family assistance – all for the families trying to get through probably the most stressful time in their lives.