Get your kids their flu shot and do it for Tatiana Hernandez, the warrior princess

It started out in January of 2016 as pains in her shins, pains that everyone, including her doctors, thought were “growing pains.” Then she started to get fevers. They would come and go. After a while, the doctors did blood work to check for scary things— like leukemia. The blood work was normal. The fevers increased in their frequency, to every other day, and finally, her body could hide it and fight it no more. Her blood work came back on May 4 of 2016 with the dreaded diagnosis— it was leukemia. Tatiana Hernandez was three years old. The rest of 2016 was very hard for Tatiana. Not just because of the treatment, which was bad enough, but because of how it killed her immune system. Pancreatitis, colds that led to lengthy hospital stays. Anything that other kids could handle or fight off, made her very, very sick. Mom, Laura Reyes, an Oak Forest alumnus, was the one with the insurance. So she would sleep at Texas Children’s, get up, go to work, come home to be with big brother Nathaniel (who is in Ms. Harold’s class) for a little bit, and then go back to the hospital. Thankfully, she had an amazing support system that included her mom and her Aunt. Nathaniel was a trooper, and sacrificed time and attention for his sister. That’s the way it had to be. In the fall of 2017, Tatiana started preschool at OFE. She was in Mr. Guzman’s class. That was also the year that the flu was rampant at the school, so Tatiana had to miss a lot of school, so she wouldn’t get sick. What I am trying to say is that your child might miss a few days with the flu, but for Tatiana, the flu could have been deadly. Through it all, the school was awesome. Mr. Guzman’s class did something called, “monkey in my chair,” where a monkey sat in her chair while she wasn’t there and they took pictures of all the things she was supposed to be doing and sent them to her, so she wouldn’t feel like she was missing anything. She continued with her treatment, and, even after her lumbar punctures, she always wanted to walk out of the treatment center. She never wanted to be carried out and she never wanted to ride out in a wagon. She wanted to walk out. Did I mention that when she grows up, she wants to be a boxer? Over the summer, she got to “ring the bell” which means she is done with chemo—she will still be a leukemia patient for 5 years—but she is done with chemo. With her that day was an army of people, and in that army were Mr. Casler, Ms. Pennington and Mr. Roy. This year she is a proud member of Ms. Paule’s class. She is getting her strength back and didn’t stop running in the funrun until they said kinder was done. Her hair is getting long enough for braids, which she is excited about and she is losing the weight that the steroids caused her to gain. She is looking forward to her birthday party this year. She couldn’t have one in 2016 because she was too sick, and in 2017, everyone else was too sick with the flu to be around her. Get your kids the flu shot for Tatiana, please. And get yourself one too. I asked her mom if there was anything else she wanted people to know about her amazing daughter. She said, “she never lost her spunk or happiness during the two and a half years of treatment.” She didn’t let it stop her. Tatiana. Our warrior princess.

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