This Is Our Story: “Living In Remission”
Cancer is one of the hardest pills to swallow once diagnosed by a doctor. Close family members and friends become overwhelmed with emotions, and they try to keep together, however, it is painful to witness your loved ones pass away. And not many words can describe how the patient feels because this disease can destroy anyone mentally, emotionally and physically.
Moreover, there is a young lady from Oakland, California who has been battling brain cancer for two years and her attitude towards it is very phenomenal. Her name is Leilani Haley, and she is a fighter. Day after day, going to chemotherapy praying that the disease would diminish away but never getting her prayers answered. So Leilani had to learn patience which has made it much easier for her and her family to endure this type of pain.
Born on June 14th, 1995, in Berkeley, California from two lovely parents Lorinzo and DeAnna Haley. Also, Leilani has five siblings by the name of Alonzo, Lorinzo, Kenny, Lorinzo and Kamisha Haley.
In high school, Leilani attended San Lorenzo High, and she was interested in swimming, but she could only participate for one year due to grades. But when she was not in school Leilani would have two jobs as a house cleaner and an in-home care provider.
As a teenager Leilani worked hard and mainly stayed to herself so before turning 20 years-old, she was able to buy a brand new BMW X5. Music and shopping also play a big part in her life because it got her through the good times as well as the bad times.
“I’m not the type of person to have many friends or have any friends at all,” said Leilani. “I rather stay home do some online shopping and listen to Drake, Chris Brown, Dom Kennedy, Avant, or Jhene Aiko.”
During Leilani’s junior and senior of high school she joined a program called Regional Occupation, which allows high school students to take career classes and get college credit for them. After the students finished with the program they go straight into the field they want to work in. Leilani finished the high school portion of the program but then she decided to go to Merritt and Laney College in Oakland. Within the first two semesters, Leilani was planning to study nursing, but plans did not fall through.
Discovering the Tumor/Brain Cancer
Two years ago, Leilani was driving home in her BMW when a driver suddenly slammed into the rear end of her car sending her flying a few feet forward. The driver was texting while driving and in the state of California, that is illegal. A few days later, Leilani was in pain and agony, so she made the decision to drive herself to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland.
Sadly enough, on October 12, 2014, the doctor discovered a tumor between Leilani’s brain and her spine. Fluids from her spinal cord were beginning to suffer from blockage, which can cause a massive headache or even worse “death.”
The doctor diagnosed the disease as medulloblastoma, and this is another form of brain cancer. According to MedicineNet.com, medulloblastoma is very common in childhood and the survival rate depends on the child’s age, weight or when he/she was diagnosed.
“When I found out I had brain cancer, it made sense because I use to get these massive headaches,” said Leilani. “And come to find out there was a brain tumor between my brain and my spine.”
Leilani had to stay in the hospital for a month and during that time, her family and her boyfriend of two years, Aaron Jones, was visiting Leilani every day even when they were busy. For instances, Jones would go to school, go to football, go to the hospital, and then go home to wake up and do it all over again the next day. Jones exuded pure dedication and currently he is attended Long Beach State, majoring in sociology.
“Except for family, he is the only person I want to be around. I appreciate everything he has done for me, especially his patience,” said Leilani.
Living In Remission
After all of the wishing, hoping and praying, Leilani and her family prayers were finally answered because on January 9th, 2016, Leilani was relieved of brain cancer. So she knew that staying active and optimistic would be the best thing for her to do.
“I was glad when I found out about not having brain cancer. Now I can walk with a cane and do some of the activities that I could not do in the beginning stages,” said Leilani.
Nevertheless, Leilani still had to worry about paying for physical therapy, which cost an estimated 170 dollars an hour. Also, she needs several more sessions to finish her recovery. Alameda Alliance, Leilani’s medical insurance, usually pays for the treatment but the process is taking too long, and she needs the money ASAP.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 84 percent of African-American families cannot afford the basic needs of health care. And that is why Leilani started a GoFundMe account to ask people for a simple donation. Leilani uses social media to get the word out and bring awareness to patients with brain cancer. As of now Leilani has raised up 2,680 thousand dollars and growing. Happy Brain Cancer Awareness Month!!!