MERIDIAN, Idaho — Lilah Bryson is a happy, cheerful 5-year-old girl with curly hair and a big smile. She lives in Meridian, with her parents, Cody and Lindsay, and her three brothers.
When Lilah was two and a half, her parents became worried when she wasn’t feeling well for several days.
“We noticed Lilah had been fighting a bit of a fever for a few days and then over a week,” Lilah's mother Lindsay Bryson said. “The fever persisted and then eventually she had a hard time walking, and that's what brought us to getting blood work done.”
When Lilah's parents discovered what was wrong, they were heartbroken.
“The blood test showed that she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” Lindsay Bryson said.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells. It is the most common childhood cancer.
“It was a rollercoaster really, you're just trying to keep up and surviving day-to-day,” Lilah’s dad Cody Bryson said. “Hospital stays, appointments, and then her struggling with chemo and everything."
Fighting childhood cancer takes a toll on the patient and the whole family. The Brysons hunkered down together as a family and focused on getting Lilah well again.
“It was a source of strength for us,” Lindsay Bryson said. “Even though we had some of our lowest days, we had some of our highest days and we experienced it all as a family. “
Through over two years of treatment, Lilah was the toughest in the family.
“She's a fighter, she was really strong through all of it,” Lindsay Bryson said. “We always talk about how we need to be strong like Lilah. She never gives up, it's a motto that we've adopted in our family. It's truly something that we've lived by every single day. Anytime I felt like giving up, I would just look at her. She inspired us all to never ever give up.”
One of the best moments for the whole family was being together to see Lilah ring the bell, celebrating her final chemotherapy treatment after 797 days of treatment.
To further the celebration, the Brysons celebrated Lilah's milestone on a sunny evening in September in their Meridian neighborhood. Her family and friends organized a drive-by parade and party.
Lilah has persevered through 167 rounds of chemo, 23 lumbar punctures, and over 30 days in the hospital. She had portions of time where she couldn’t walk and still pushed forward.
The Brysons said they cannot thank Lilah's amazing medical team at St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital enough.
“The parade means a lot, honestly. What it represents is all the support we've had through this, and to be quite honest, we couldn't have done this alone," Cody Bryson said. "Our neighbors and friends and family, we wouldn't have made it without them. We really wouldn't have. Our community is amazing."
The Brysons feel so blessed and want to encourage other Idaho families who are battling childhood cancer right now.
“There's light at the end of the tunnel,” Cody Bryson said. “When you are in it, is it seriously one of the hardest things you'll go through, but there is light and there is hope there.”
“I just want to say to everyone who is still in the fight, and to those that we lost on the way, never, ever give up," Lindsay Bryson said.
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