Before the evening of December 13th, 2014, Lilli Hicks was living the normal life of a 12-year-old with her family, growing up in Greensboro, North Carolina. But on this night, with her favorite stuffed owl by her side, she was diagnosed with AM Leukemia. While her parents, Travis and Lou Anne, were numb as they attempted to process everything, Lilli worried about missing school on Monday.
Three days later, Lilli began intense chemotherapy. Over the course of the following months, Lilli would receive her treatment in-patient for 28 days at a time, go home for a few days break, and begin this process over. Lilli had to go through this process 4 different times. After four cycles and many sleepless hospital nights clutching to that stuffed owl, Lilli went into remission on March 28, 2014. Lilli was strong enough to beat her disease, but she would have to become stronger.
Eleven months later, on February 26th , 2016, Lilli’s bloodwork showed signs that the leukemia had returned and a bone marrow biopsy confirmed with 89% blasts of immature blood forming cells in her bloodstream (normal is 5% or less). After an intense work-up period with two more cycles of chemotherapy and every hospital test in the book, Lilli was admitted to Duke Children’s Hospital on April 26th, 2016. Enduring three days of chemotherapy at a time, following by two days of radiation, and then beginning the process over again, Lilli had to spend her days in quarantine as the intensity of the treatment weakened her immune system to near-nothing. Finally, on May 23rd, 2016, Lilli received her transplant: cord blood donated by two different undisclosed donors.
The Hicks family is still attempting to recover from the financial costs of almost three years of hospital bills. Even with insurance picking up the larger portion of the tab, the family is still left trying to pay down a hefty balance. While both parents have returned to work to try and make up ground, finances remain a stressor for the family.
Throughout this three-year journey, Lilli’s friends and family have worked to lift Lilli’s spirits by sending stuffed owls and bearing the hashtag #lillistronger. As simple as it is, these symbols have been a source of hope and happiness for the family on Lilli’s best and worst of days in the hospital.
THE LILLI OWL IN THE WILD
Our families take great joy in knowing that others are wearing their unique designs all around the world. Wear your socks proudly and tag #RGCommunity