Fifteen-year-old Lourdess Sumners is the epitome of strength, her infectious laughter giving no indication of the hardship she’s been through.
In April 2007, Lourdess was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia after a golf-ball-sized lump developed in her neck.
Lourdess’ father Orlando was completely shocked. “It was like being whacked on the side of the head with a two-by-four,” he recalls. After the diagnosis, life turned “crazy” for the Sumners family.
Lourdess was treated with chemotherapy at BC Children’s Hospital until October of 2007, but she relapsed a year later.
Her doctor, Dr. Kirk Schultz, knew that a hematopoietic stem cell transplant, which uses a donor’s immune system to attack the leukemia, was Lourdess’ last chance to get better.
Two months after Lourdess’ transplant, she had skin lesions and gastrointestinal problems so bad that she was unable to eat.
Though her cancer diagnosis and the treatments that followed were a dark time for Lourdess, she has fond memories of the staff who cared for her.
“Everyone was so awesome,” she says. “Dr. Schultz is like my second dad.”
Except for hormones, Lourdess is no longer on any medication. She is finally living the life of a normal 15-year-old, busying herself with drama class, her friends, a part-time job, and coffee dates with her sisters.