You helped Juliana Embrace Her Story

Bruising, dark circles and a distended stomach were not a good sign for 5-year-old Juliana. Rushed to Children’s Hospital by her family, Juliana was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). And her life turned into 6-hour long chemotherapy treatments, twice a week.  

Juliana’s memories of the hospital start with the loops and swirls of the Candyland board. She played for hours with her dad as they waited in the Paediatric Medical Day Unit before Chemotherapy.  

But with lumbar punctures every 28 days, needle pokes and more long treatments, little Juliana depended on the friendship and distractions of her Child Life Specialists Melissa, Lisa and Michelle to make it through treatment. Blowing bubbles, making crafts and playing games helped keep her calm so she could make it through.  

After two years and three months, Juliana celebrated the end of treatment!  

But Juliana shares, “You never really stop being a Children’s patient.”  

The memory and symptoms of long chemotherapy treatments stuck with Juliana beyond her time in hospital.  

As Juliana describes, “I didn't have hair. I was on prednisone, so my face changed and was swollen. It was hard to get other kids to understand. So, as soon as I started to look more like an average kid. I didn’t tell anyone that I had leukemia as a child.” 

Juliana kept her journey and those difficult feelings to herself for a long time. Until she heard a speech by Josh Sundquist.  

A paralympic athlete, motivational speaker and author, Josh lost his leg to childhood cancer at nine-years-old.  

“That was a really pivotal moment for me,” recalls Juliana. “I watched Josh embrace his journey and realized it might be time to embrace mine too.”  

At 15, Juliana set out with a goal to help other kids feel accepted and empowered to own their health care journeys. From making a few speeches at her high school, to chatting with a professor whose daughter had a neuroblastoma, Juliana learned she could make a positive impact with her story.  

So much so, that she joined the Children’s Health Foundation as a summer student and never looked back.   

Today, Juliana is a proud Community Relations Associate at Children’s Health Foundation, celebrating three years with the Foundation. She is overjoyed to be here and is so grateful for the expertise of Children’s Childhood Cancer program, Children’s life-enriching patient support programs and the chance to make a positive impact with her story. 

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