When Ariel Griffith, a teenager from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, had trouble catching her breath, she was treated at the Grand Strand Medical Center for COVID-19, pneumonia and sepsis.
Doctors soon delivered even more devastating news to Griffith’s family. The honored eighth grader, who recently joined the school’s basketball team, also has leukemia.
Griffith, 13, a student at Ocean Bay Middle School, is now connected to a ventilator and feeding tube at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
Her stepfather tested positive for COVID-19 on December 1. Griffith was initially negative, according to her mother, Lauren Hocin.
That changed a few days later.
“We started to feel bad on December 5th. On Tuesday, she was throwing up and throwing up. We know he was positive, so we assume we do too, ”Hocin told TODAY Health. “But I realized that when I went to wake her up, her face looked swollen. It was in your lymph node area. I said, ‘It doesn’t feel right.’ Ariel said he realized, but was afraid to tell anyone. It had been like this for weeks. “
A few days later, Griffith visited a doctor and her family was informed that she has leukemia.
“I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that doctor,” said Hocin. “Instead of saying that her lymph nodes are swollen because of the coronavirus, she insisted on having a blood test. He found that his white blood cell count was very low, along with the platelets, and she was sent to the emergency room. “
Griffith started chemotherapy last Friday. Although the last few days have been a nightmare for the family, Hocin said he is encouraged by the improvements his daughter is making. She said the teenager’s fever had subsided and her blood was “looking better”.
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“Ariel is fine. Is she fighting for her life? Yes. She is still on the respirator and they added a feeding tube to which she is responding well. Her lungs are not strong enough to breathe on their own, they tried to wean some from medications to see how she did and she didn’t respond well, so she’s back to sleeping pills completely, “wrote Hocin in an update on a GoFundMe page for the family. “However! It just means that she needs more time for her lungs to heal and it’s okay. She has to beat COVID so she can beat leukemia.”
Hocin said TODAY that he was inspired to share his daughter’s story after reading the story of another mother who supported her son during her cancer a few months ago. She said that while her daughter is fighting COVID-19, she is grateful that she is also receiving chemotherapy.
“It’s been a roller coaster to say the least, but to see that it has some improvements. It’s a mother’s dream. She’s on the respirator. A machine is breathing for her. They tried to wake her up the other day and she didn’t deal with it well. She had a coughing fit, “she said.” Seeing that she’s getting better means a lot to me. “
Hocin said he is living with the celebration of “small miracles”. On Sunday, she received the news that leukemia was not present in her daughter’s spine.
“Ariel’s story will help other people. We are in pieces for the support we received. Our neighbors are delivering things every day. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of support we received, ”said Hocin. “I just can’t tell you what this is going to create in me to do with others. This is generating even greater passion in me to help other mothers who are going through the same thing.
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. MORE TODAY: