Meet this year's kids
Winter Elkins, Age 8
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
When 8-year-old Winter Elkins from Virginia Beach got sick in the summer of 2009, her mom thought she probably had mononucleosis. When fevers continued, her parents brought Winter to CHKD, where tests determined that Winter had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL.
Her parents, Heather and Mike, were devastated.
The first treatments knocked her down, as Winter recalled in an online posting for a leukemia organization website: “When I first got this cancer, I was very, very sick. I felt a little sad since I didn't want to die.”
Still, despite everything, Winter has remained chatty and charismatic. She goes on about how much she loves CHKD, the child life specialists, the pet therapy dogs, the games, and her oncologist,
Dr. Anthony Villela, whom she calls “Dr. Vanilla.”
Ironically, Winter’s mother had long supported cancer research, though she donated to other institutions in other parts of the country. With Winter’s illness, Heather discovered that CHKD could offer the most advanced cancer treatments developed in collaboration with 250 of the world’s leading pediatric cancer treatment centers.
“It’s a huge deal,” she said. “I can’t even tell you what it would do to a family to say, ‘Your child has cancer and you’re going to have to move five hours away.’”
Winter, meanwhile, is constantly surrounded by family and friends, including fellow cancer patients she's met at CHKD.
“I love to go to the hospital most days because I can play with all my new friends,” Winter wrote in one posting that ended with a wish: “If I have one thing to tell people about my cancer it is to pray for all the other children who have cancer and even me!”