Gwyn – A Gymnast, Fighter and a Philanthropist

Gwyn is a caring, creative girl; she loves art, animals, softball, gymnastics and has a warm heart. She also fought and triumphed over cancer.

It was the summer of 2016 when she was just four, and Gwyn was tired and feverish. Her parents thought it was heat exhaustion. Then, Leslie noticed little red dots on neck and took her into see the pediatrician, who ordered bloodwork immediately. Within days she was routed to the ED at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and a bed at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders was ready. Gwyn was diagnosed with Leukemia. “Our pediatrician was dialed into the signs, and we were grateful for that,” said Leslie. “It’s horrible to hear your child has cancer, and we tried to keep it together for everyone.”

Gwyn stayed inpatient at Phoenix Children’s to receive chemotherapy, then went to Phoenix Children’s East Valley clinic to receive outpatient treatment. For the most part, Gwyn only had a few unplanned overnight stays for chemotherapy; she stayed strong even though her immune system was destroyed. She loved the Child Life playroom, and Gwyn’s older sister met other kids.

Leslie says their family experienced great care at Phoenix Children’s; Gwyn loved pet therapy, and Leslie took advantage of the Emily Center to read everything she could about her daughter’s cancer.” it helped with gathering information about nutrition, and also looked for what kind of books were available to explain things to Gwyn.

When Gwyn lost her hair, she read “The Hair Fairy”; as soon as she was healthy she went back to gymnastics. It felt like physical therapy for her, and Dr. Williams and the nurses were wonderful to work with.

After two and a half years of treatment, Leslie said it was a relief to be done – but also terrifying because she wasn’t seeing doctors anymore. She wonders about long-term side effects. Raised money with leukemia and lymphoma society – honorary family for Light the Night: Gladiators raised $50 – $60 K; race starter for Race for Cancer – raising money for CCN; help with Child Life aspects; participated with those organizations; also participate in blood dedicated to spreading word to getting donations for blood because of transfusions; Lemonade stands; Lemons for Leukemia – raised funds.