Destiny is only 7 years old, but she has already taught the adults in her life a great many things. She has:
• given the sick and dying the will to live
• comforted grieving parents
• helped families of chronically ill children find joy
“This little girl has touched so many lives,” said her grandmother, Joann, who has provided a home for Destiny for the past two years. “She is amazing.”
Amazing, indeed. Destiny has worked her magic while battling a persistent form of cancer. The journey began when two large tumors – one the size of a fist – were found in Destiny’s brain when the child was just 18 months old.
Within a day of the diagnosis, Destiny was in the hands of Nicklaus Children's neurosurgeon Dr. Glenn Morrison, who successfully removed the tumors. Destiny then underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant under the care of the Nicklaus Children's Cancer Center.
The team at the Cancer Center, including Destiny’s oncologist Dr. Ziad Khatib
, have seen Destiny through all phases of treatment. “Everyone has been wonderful to us,” said Joann. “We can reach a doctor at any time to talk, and the pharmacists, nurses, and social workers have all been so accessible and so supportive.”
Today, Destiny has small, dormant tumors on her spine that are inoperable and resistant to both radiation and chemotherapy. She and her grandmother know that each day they have together is precious and live their lives accordingly.
“Destiny loves people. She loves school, going to the park and visits to Chuck E. Cheese’s,” said Joann. “She is a future artist. She can color for hours at a time. Sometimes she falls asleep with the crayons in her hands.”
Destiny’s greatest achievement is her ability to inspire others. A family member emerging from a coma following a heart attack managed to scrawl Destiny’s name on a piece of paper. When Destiny was brought to his bedside, he began to rally and has made a full recovery.
Families of other children living with cancer have taken inspiration from Destiny and Joann’s example. “I recently received an e-mail from a family who told us that they’ve completely changed the way they approach life because of Destiny and me. They have made a conscious decision to embrace joy,” said Joann.