Amelia Ballard’s one of those people you think about when you hear the phrase “Never quit.” She’s been diagnosed with cancer TWICE and has now grown up to make it a part of her profession.
Her first diagnosis came at 17 months old. Her parents rushed her to the hospital after realizing she had a 106-degree fever. That’s when the doctors broke the news to her parents, she had acute lymphocytic leukemia. After fighting for over two years she was finally cancer free and in remission.
Then she relapsed.
“The cancer during my relapse was extremely aggressive and my course of treatment required intense chemotherapy, cranial radiation, total body radiation and a bone marrow transplant,” she told ABC News. “My parents were told that my chances of survival depended on finding a bone marrow donor and my body’s ability to handle all the treatment. My immediate family members were tested and my older brother, Robbie, was a perfect match. The intense treatment began in preparation for my body to receive my brother’s stem cells.”
Through it all her parents refused to give up. “My parents decided early on that if I survived, they wanted this to be a positive experience for me, so my mom photographed happy moments and good days during this time,” she said. “These pictures would help to encourage me through the bad times and help remind me that that they would pass.”
Finally, in June of 1997, Amelia went into an operation that would transfer her brother’s stem cells into her, and though there were complications, the procedure ultimately worked! Wanting to help others, Amelia entered the survivor program at the same hospital where she was treated at exactly the five-year cancer free mark.
Here’s the best part.
Just this past May she graduated from Georgia Southern University’s nursing program and was hired at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the same hospital that treated her all those years ago.
“Cancer has been a journey filled with joy, pain, battles and triumphs,” she said. “Along my journey, I have lost many dear friends, but I am forever grateful for the journey and the many blessings that have resulted from it. I am so excited to pay it forward and provide each of my patients and their families with the care and compassion shown to me and my family during our experience at CHOA.”