Alexis Hwa from Seattle is a little girl who overcame leukemia at just the age of six. She used her “wish” to help inspire other kids who are overcoming health issues to stay strong in the face of adversity.
Soon after her third birthday, Alexis was sent home from her daycare group early with a fever. Her mother, Angela, noticed that Alexis was pale and tired, and also that she had red spots on her skin. After a few tests, it was realized that Alexis had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of childhood cancer where the bone marrow produces too many immature white blood cells. Alexis started treatment at the Seattle Children’s Hospital and a long battle with the disease ensued.
Three years after Alexis started treatment, her leukemia was put at bay and her life returned to normal. She finished chemotherapy and pill treatments, as well as monotonous trips to the doctor. Like most kids her age, though, it is probably safe to say that imagination was her friend during this time, and she got through the horrifying process with a whole new world tucked away in her mind.
When her family was contacted by Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington, Alexis had the idea of creating a cartoon that would help inspire other children with diseases to be brave and keep fighting. In the cartoon, narrated by Jamie Chung, and featuring Alexis and her mother doing the voice work themselves, Alexis imagines herself as a fairy princess who gets captured by an evil dragon Kemia (the personification of the leukemia) and is imprisoned in a tall tower, symbolic of her hospital room during lengthy hospital stays.
Alexis’s helpful nurse at the hospital was a fairy godmother of sorts, encouraging her to be strong to overcome the disease.
In her story, she imagines herself needing a magic wand to ultimately vanquish the dragon, even though it will come at the cost of her beautiful hair and strength.
“Alexis understands the power of a good story and its ability to make sense of the world and create empathy in others. For many children, their imaginations are made up of characters who experience danger, heartache, suspense and adventure, but their own lives remain relatively normal. Alexis’s life has been much more like that of a character battling for her existence against evil forces,” reads a statement on the Make-A-Wish’s website.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is considered the most common form of childhood leukemia, with around 2,670 children aged 14 or younger expected to be diagnosed this year. Fortunatley, it is treatable, and has a five-year survival rate of over 85%.