Shortly after his third birthday, Flavia and Stalin began to notice significant bruising below the knees on their son, Leo. Their worries began growing after they realized that Leo was more tired than usual, presenting signs of difficulty breathing, and struggling to complete everyday activities.
At that point, they decided to take Leo to the pediatrician, where a blood test would soon determine their family's journey for the next several years. Anxiously awaiting the blood test results, Flavia and Stalin received a call from their pediatrician advising them to take Leo to the emergency department at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital immediately. At that point, they began to realize this was something serious.
Leo’s parents will never forget the last week of school, when they picked him up and took him to the emergency department at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital for further testing, where more blood work, an x-ray and other imaging were performed. That day, Flavia and Stalin received the news that no parent should ever have to hear – “your child has leukemia.”
Leo was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was immediately admitted and placed under the care of Dr. Maggie Fader, pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Nicklaus Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorder Institute, where he began his treatment plan.
Now more than three years since his diagnosis and start of treatment, Leo rang the golden bell. The golden bell at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital symbolizes the end of cancer treatment and a very joyous occasion for families. For Flavia, Stalin and Leo, the bell ringing means the end of a three and a half year journey filled with many ups and downs – consistency, structure, discipline and isolation.
As for Leo, he is enjoying life like every kid should. He recently became a big brother, welcoming his little sister Gianna to the world. Leo and his family also accepted the role to represent Nicklaus Children’s as the 2023 Champion Family for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
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