12-year-old fights leukemia, but keeps taking one more step

Angie Rivera
Angie Rivera with Angie’s Army at Albert Cammon Middle School.

Holds fundraiser for Children’s Hospital

When the leukemia diagnosis came for 12-year-old Angie Rivera, she struggled with lingering fears and uncertainty.

“I was kind of confused and devastated – and it sucked,” Rivera said. “I was very afraid because, even until today, I don’t know what’s next.”

It was Jan. 23, 2017 when the Albert Cammon Middle School student got the news that made her stay home, take chemotherapy and left her worrying about her life even in remission.

Rivera is still taking chemotherapy.

She contemplates the physical damage that comes with the treatment, which she knows firsthand.

“I learned to cherish what I have because while I was going through chemotherapy it destroyed the bones in my knees, making it hard to run,” Rivera said. “It’s hard for me as a sporty person. I can’t do this as much as I’ve learned to cherish and enjoy every second I have.”

I also want to put smiles on kids’ faces who are going through very hard things. I know what it feels like ….” Angie Rivera

One of those moments caught Rivera’s eye at home.

“I found papers while cleaning my room … papers from my past,” she said. “I would get sent papers from the Lymphoma Society and it was like sheets about doing a fundraiser.”

And that’s when it occurred to her that she wanted to do a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital in New Orleans.

Angie Rivera
Angie Rivera

Rivera pondered the idea for a while and then told her Principal Tamika Green about it and, to the students’ surprise, she accepted it.

Rivera sold “dress down” passes for $2. Those who bought a ticket dressed in orange representing leukemia awareness and got to dress down Friday.

Proceeds – more than $400 – are going to Children’s Hospital. Additionally, Rivera also made a video about leukemia to raise awareness and answer questions about it.

Children’s Hospital is where she’s being treated and where she hopes to help provide more for children there.

“They help me a lot,” Rivera said. “I also want to put smiles on kids’ faces who are going through very hard things. I know what it feels like because I’ve been there and I know it’s not easy to deal with any type of cancer. There are some kids whose parents have to go to work and their children stay at the hospital with the nurses.”

Even though she is still working through her own pain, she wants to keep taking those steps that keep her moving.

“It’s hard,” she said. “There’s challenges … things I have to overcome. There’s a lot of pain going on.”

When first diagnosed, she had to stay home and be home schooled because she couldn’t be around people, particularly a crowd, for immunity reasons. Now, she’s back at school although she still has to avoid large groups of people.

Her remission also gives the seventh-grader hope.

“I’d tell others like me to never give up and to stay strong because those are the strongest words I got told and those words kept me moving through my process,” Rivera said. “Just remember that one day you’ll be done with all this and you’ll get to move on … and do whatever  you want. This process is only for a moment and one day you’ll be done, and you won’t have to deal with it anymore.”

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