Listen to Itzel's Journey on the Socks with Stories Podcast
In October of 2018, Itzel's mom, Estefania, took Itzel - who was complaining of severe back pain - to the ER. The doctor tested for spleen and kidney issues, but but ultimately told the family to keep an eye one things. Over the next month, Itzel was in and out of school with fevers, pain, and night sweats... to the point where her school called to say she was missing too much school.
In Itzel's second trip to the ER, doctors still failed to administer a blood test, and instead prescribed ibuprofen and medication for a viral infection. Due to a lack of insurance coverage, doctors seemed quick to dismiss Itzel's symptoms, to father Raul's deep frustration. Estefania quit her job to care for Itzel, which allowed the family to qualify for state health insurance. Confused and frustrated with why they couldn't get answers, Estefania took Itzel to see their regular pediatrician, who was shocked to learn that they had not received a blood test in their two ER visits.
The blood test confirmed their fears - Itzel was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). "I really couldn't believe it. I think it took me a month to fully process that this was real. But at the same time, we were so relieved to finally have an answer," says Raul.
The first month of induction was challenging - Itzel completely lost mobility, high doses of steroids made her irritable, the chemo caused rashes and mouth sores, and constipation led to a horrible (but humorous) night in the hospital (listen to their telling of the event on their Socks with Stories podcast episode!). Happy to have made it through the hardest part of her treatment, Itzel is now doing better and is excitedly counting down the last couple months of maintenance therapy.
Throughout her journey, art therapy was one of Itzel's favorite ways to pass time at the hospital. Whether it's making slime, painting, or drawing, she loves getting creative. Itzel designed Angel Wing socks "to remember all of the angels who were taken by cancer too soon."