We are honored to introduce you to our next room recipient, Sarah Loza. Sarah is 9 years-old and is the middle child of three girls. She enjoys a close relationship with her older sister, 12 year-old Arianna, and her younger sister, 5 year-old Julieta... as well as her sweet puppy, Ace! Up until early last fall, Sarah was a regular girl, excited about entering the 4th grade at Deer Canyon Elementary. Her favorite activities included soccer, piano, art, Girl Scouts, science, and hanging out at the beach. However, in early September, Sarah began to experience a myriad of unexplained symptoms that had her parents and Sarah's doctors stumped. Multiple blood tests, MRIs and EEGs revealed no abnormalities, but Sarah's parents remained vigilant as their instincts told them that something was not right.
On October 5, 2017, a CT scan revealed that Sarah, in fact, had lymphoma. Specifically, Sarah was diagnosed with a very rare, high grade stage 3 large B cell lymphoma, also referred to as Burkitt lymphoma of the intra-abdominal lymph nodes. The cancer had originated in her pelvis with two large masses and had quickly spread, through her blood, into her lymph nodes, her head, and behind her eyes. The days and weeks following her diagnosis were a blur for Sarah and her family. Sarah's treatment plan was necessarily aggressive and included surgeries, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, and lumbar punctures. The side effects of her treatment were staggering as she endured hair loss, infections, significant weight loss, fevers, and severe fatigue. Amazingly, on January 26, 2018, Sarah and her family received the news that Sarah was in remission. While she still has several months of maintenance chemo to weather, Sarah is finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and she is looking forward to a time when she can return to her life as an active and energetic girl.
Sarah's spunky, daring, and strong-willed personality has continued to shine, despite all of the difficulties she has had to face. Her family, friends, and treatment team at Rady Children's Hospital have been wowed by her spirit and strength. While in-patient at Rady Children's, Sarah noticed that many of the children at the hospital were isolated and unable to connect with other young patients, either because it was too risky for them to leave their rooms or because they were too shy to do so. Sarah and her mom came up with two wonderful programs aimed at allowing kids to connect with others who are similarly situated. With their first idea "CHAT With Friends," Sarah's family distributed walkie talkies to patients so that they could make friends even when circumstances required them to remain in their hospital rooms. The second idea, "Get to Know You Jenga," was conceived after Sarah noticed that children were often very reserved and hesitant to initiate a conversation even during organized social gatherings at the hospital. Sarah and her mom used a label-maker to add fun questions to each block in a Jenga game with the hopes that it would serve as an ice-breaker and prompt children to engage and feel more comfortable with their peers. Both programs have been great successes and have allowed Sarah and others to connect with fellow warrior kids facing tough challenges.
We at Savvy Giving by Design are thrilled to be able to provide Sarah with a dream room where she can rest comfortably, heal, and spend time with her family and friends. Sarah embodies so much of the giving spirit that we hope to share as she selflessly seeks to better the lives of those around her, even when she herself is struggling. Please consider contributing anything you can so that we can design and install beautiful new rooms for Sarah and her sisters, Arianna and Julieta.