We believe in dreams. We believe in miracles. If we believe, there is nothing we cannot do. It was October 3, 2010, when our 9-year old daughter, Briana, was taken to the hospital to be treated for a minor fever. A few hours later, I was given the shocking news that no parent wants to hear, “Your daughter has Acute Myeloblastic Leukemia (AML)”. AML is a rare form of Leukemia characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells that interfere with the production of normal blood cells. The painful and shocking news was overwhelming. As parents, we decided that we were willing to give everything we had, to the last penny, in order to cure our daughter. 48 hours later, Briana was flown from Dominican Republic to Miami Children’s hospital, located in Florida, in order to start treatment.
The treatment lasted 6 weeks, with 20 long days of continuous painful chemotherapy. But Briana’s love, positive attitude, dreams, and faith got her through it. A few days after the treatment was done, Doctors said that her condition was good enough for her to leave the hospital. So we found a place near the hospital to stay as she went through seven long and excruciating months of chemotherapy in order to ensure that the cancer will not come back.
Once the doctors announced to us that her Leukemia had gone into remission, we took her back to Dominican Republic. Back home, we spent several joyful months with our daughter and trusted that her cancer was gone. The first time Briana was diagnosed with Leukemia, she was able to fight it off with very little effort. Even though we saw our daughter in unbearable pain, we were delighted and felt blessed by God for such a quick victory.
October 25, 2011, a year after her firsr diagnostic, Briana is diagnosed with Leukemia a second time. At this point, we flew her back to the United States were she was given more chemotherapy, in hopes of taking Briana into remission, and then performing a bone marrow transplant as a last resort. But the Leukemia was not giving in. The doctors then suggested that, even though extremely risky, we proceed to do the transplant. Being the only choice to save our daughter, we accepted the doctor’s proposal and started preparations for it.
Finding a bone marrow match for Briana was extremely difficult, but we turned to God, and he gave it to us. Emmanuel, Briana’s older brother, tested to be a 99% match, nearly an identical donor. In order to prepare for her transplant, our daughter was taken to the hospital in an ambulance twice daily were they performed radiation therapy. This went on for a total of 4 days. When the radiation treatment was completed, she was given 48 hours of continuous chemotherapy before she was allowed to rest. Three days later, the Doctors scheduled the date for Briana’s bone narrow transplant.
At this point, Briana had lost all of her hair, her weight had dramatically decreased, and her skin was burnt from the radiation. She was placed in isolation due to her weak immune system. Four doors needed to be reached before you could see her. Visits were limited, required sterile gowns, masks, gloves and overshoe attire, and children visits, although welcomed, were not advisable. She remained in isolation for 40 more days, until February 23, 2012 when the transplant was performed.
After the transplant was performed, Briana was Leukemia free for a second time. This posed a new challenge. She had no defense against any health threat, she was weak, very fragile but with new hopes. The disease was gone and so the recovery process started and we were on the way to a full leukemia-free recovery.
May 23rd, 2012, exactly 3 months after the transplant Briana started showing symptoms once again and we were presented with the devastating news. The Leukemia had returned, for a third time. Briana was rushed to the hospital once again and more chemotherapy is being given with our faith in God that she will go into remission for a final time.
During this 18 months of battle, we have managed to make very good friends who have given us all of their support and especially a shoulder to rest. God’s love never lacked and our faith is still one hundred percent on Briana’s full recovery.
She is currently very weak. Although weak and fighting such a hard condition, one thing keeps her afloat: Her love and passion for Justin Bieber. She spends every single bit of her energy, managing and promoting her Facebook fan page “Yo tambien estoy enamorada de Justin Bieber” (I too am in love with Justin Bieber) that she started just when she was 9-years-old. The page is a fan club for spanish-speaking “Bieliebers” where she has reached close to 8,000 fans by now, making it the second largest Bieber fan club for spanish speakers. Her bed sheets, clothes, her Make-A-Wish, her everything is just for one goal: To meet the love of her life, Justin Bieber.