Alexis Vega is a normal Maricopa preteen. She loves reality television shows, make-up, picnics, crafts and music, but, most of all, she is happy to be home from the hospital today, her 11th birthday.
Until summer 2008 Alexis was a very active little girl. Then she came down with a rare bacterial infection manifested by blisters and flu-like symptoms. After many, many tests and doctor visits, Alexis’s blood work showed immune deficiencies. She was diagnosed with ALL Childhood Leukemia on July 21. After a month of chemotherapy, her cancer went into remission, but that was just the beginning of her treatment regimen.
Weekly chemo treatments continued until late February 2009, along with some ER visits and hospital stays. Everything was proceeding well—until Jan. 5 of last year. Alexis relapsed just eight months shy of the end of her treatment. Hair loss, ER visits, side effects, new chemo drugs, needles, doctors—her leukemia was back.
“It was just one thing after another, but Alexis is a real trooper,” says her mom, Mia. “She’s a fighter who keeps us grounded and looking forward. She never complains, and her only real downturn was when she contracted Valley Fever and was in ICU on breathing tubes for two weeks.”
That setback caused an eight-week delay in Alexis’s treatment.
“Her prognosis is great. The doctors are very positive and expect a full recovery,” Mia explained. The goal is for Alexis to end sixth grade cancer free.
This week Alexis has been in the hospital again for five days for chemo and maintenance. She has six more such stays ahead of her and a year of maintenance clinics to check her cell count. She also has regular physical therapy treatments at the Peterson clinic in Maricopa.
When she’s well enough, Alexis is back in her fifth grade classroom at Legacy Traditional School to “visit with friends and feel normal.” Otherwise, she is considered a homebound student.
Mia was a second grade teacher at Legacy, but she was forced to take the year off to be with Alexis during her hospital stays and treatments.
“We’re surviving,” said Mia, “but it’s hard with the medical expenses and transportation costs on only one income.”
Alexis’s father, Raul Vega, is a DPS officer. Her older brother Anthony is a junior at Maricopa High School. Grandmother Sylvia Sanora comes from Ajo about twice each month to help with laundry and other things the family needs.
The Sanoras set up a fundraiser for Alexis at Human Tribe Project to support her emotionally and to help the family financially. For every $20 necklace purchased, $15 goes directly to Alexis’s family to help with her medical expenses. For more information, log on to www.humantribeproject.com and search Alexis Mia Vega or email her grandmother at email@example.com.
As she turns 11 today, Alexis is thrilled to be home from the hospital, at least for a time (she was released on Saturday).
Alexis has two dogs, Piggy and Weeny, but she wanted another one for her birthday. A puppy named Bella was her early birthday present last week. “She’s in love with dogs,” said her mother.
However, Alexis Vega’s very best birthday present is being home with her family and pets today.