We’d like to introduce Mary Elizabeth. Not only is she beautiful inside and out, but she is amazingly strong and selfless. Mary Elizabeth was a healthy, happy and active 11-year-old in the spring of 2014. She started to complain of stomach aches, headaches and had some strange bruising on her shins. She and her family visited the pediatrician before going out of town for spring break and they were assured that it was just allergies. Otherwise, she seemed perfectly healthy. However, while at the beach she was overly exhausted and was not as happy and spirited as usual. Her family took her home to get more testing as they knew something was wrong. When the results came back, they got a call that would change their lives forever. Mary Elizabeth was diagnosed with Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the most rare and aggressive form of leukemia. This devastating news was hard to bear. Dealing with heartbreak and angst, her parents tried to stay strong and hide their tears. Mary Elizabeth told them that they were not allowed to cry because she knew she would be okay. Since the beginning of this difficult journey, Mary Elizabeth has been strong beyond human understanding and a true fighter who always puts others first. Soon after the diagnosis, her family learned that the cancer was too aggressive for chemo alone and she would also have to have a bone marrow transplant. Her brave brother was a perfect match and was more than happy to be his sister’s hero. Although the bone marrow transplant was painful and scary, it went perfectly; and, the prognosis was looking good. However, four weeks after her transplant, she developed severe Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) of the gut and ended up back in the hospital. This caused her unbearable continuous pain that persisted and at her six-week check-up they found that the cancer had relapsed. Her family sought medical intervention from specialists at St. Jude. Since then, she has had to participate in very aggressive chemotherapy that caused severe burns over 90% of her body. Throughout this painful and wrenching treatment, Mary Elizabeth stayed strong and brave and the chemotherapy was successful. She was back in remission. At a check-up, they learned she had developed a chloroma (a leukemia tumor) on her spine. This tumor brought her additional pain and threatened to cause permanent paralysis. Thankfully, the chemotherapy treatments worked to shrink this tumor as well. Following this stretch of intervention, Mary Elizabeth required a second bone marrow transplant and luckily her father was a match. Complications of the second transplant included a severe fungal infection, two instances of pulmonary hemorrhage, intubation and a medically induced coma. The family was fearful that she may not pull through, but with grace she overcame again and again! She is still in recovery and hopes to be able to return home before Easter. SOARD wants to sprinkle a whole lot of sunshine throughout her home so the family’s homecoming will be a joyous surprise! We have planned spectacular bedroom make-overs for both Mary Elizabeth, who wants to share a room with her sister, and her brother -- a pair of heroic siblings bound by steadfast strength and love that never fails! Please join us for the family’s homecoming and exciting reveal in April!