Girl smiling holding a dog

Harper's Story

It was just after Christmas and Harper was as white as the snow on the ground.  A fever that wouldn’t break led us to take her to the pediatrician.  After a few days and no answers, we were advised to take her to UPMC Children’s. Her blood count was so low that the nurses had to poke her over and over to draw blood for testing. They tried both arms, using an ultrasound machine, and the even tried her feet one time, a painful way, but it was the only other option before they had to go straight into her neck.  Luckily, the foot worked, and they got blood to send to the lab.  Even before the results were in, we met with the doctors and instantly dismissed when they tossed out words like Leukemia.  We were wrong to.

Harper was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and her treatment started immediately.  We were comforted by the fact that this is one of the most curable cancers among children, yet still horrified that our child had cancer.

Learn more about how philanthropy fuels pediatric cancer research

The nurses and doctors were amazing and mapped out a plan for our warrior to beat this disease. Days in the hospital, away from her sibling and school friends, Child Life kept her spirits high, and the doctors got her stabilized. A little further down the road we hit a speed bump (more like driving off a cliff) when we learned of a suspected perforation in her bowel and that she was going into sepsis. Again, the superhero doctors and nurses at UPMC Children’s saved her life and got the issues all squared away (without having to remove some of her intestines and giving her a colostomy bag, thank God!).

From there, regular visits to UPMC Children’s became our norm, along with daily medicines to help with the fight.  Harper’s spirit and determination lit the way. An unwavering positive attitude and a strength that few of us in life will ever know allowed her to beat cancer, “kick its butt” as we liked to say. That all led to the greatest day, when Harper was able to ring the bell to let the whole world know that she fought cancer, and SHE won!

We still get to go to UPMC Children’s now, but it is less frequent and with a new appreciation that a world-class facility that have saved Harper’s life, not once, but twice is in the community that we live. We are forever indebted and thankful.

—Emily and Wes, Harper’s Mom and Dad

Give Now

More Stories

Stories of Hope and Healing

  • D'Kaiden


    Doctors told Samantha to prepare for the worst — that her son D’Kaiden likely wouldn’t survive after birth.

    Full Story
  • Mackenzie


    Many children with developmental and behavioral health needs experience a difficult journey toward wellness due to services that are fragmented or inaccessible.

    Full Story
  • Rilyn


    “We are truly thankful for all of the nurses, physicians, surgeons, therapists, and specialists that have been involved in Rilyn’s care,” says Rilyn’s mom, Jamie. “

    Full Story
  • Erin and Nelvia

    Erin’s Complex Care

    Just like an average little girl, Erin enjoys being outside and interacting with other children. But unlike most other children, Erin has spastic quad cerebral palsy

    Full Story
  • Jackson smiling

    Jackson’s Journey

    While Danielle was still pregnant, she learned that her unborn baby boy was already fighting an uphill battle.

    Full Story
  • Rosie's Future

    Rosie's Future

    In July 2022, Amanda and Adam were just settling into life as a family of five when their newborn daughter, Rosie, started twitching.

    Full Story
  • Colin’s Second Chance

    Colin’s Second Chance

    Our then 15-year-old son, Colin, had a yearly wellness check with his pediatrician. During that visit, his pediatrician noted that Colin had lost over 10 pounds in four months.

    Full Story
  • Maelynn’s Big Smile

    Maelynn’s Big Smile

    Maelynn is a spunky 7-year-old with dark blonde hair and a big smile. She is a straight-A student, loves music and gym class, and hopes to be a teacher one day.

    Full Story
  • Taylor's Road Home

    Taylor's Road Home

    Kim says living with her 13-year-old daughter, Taylor, is like living in a musical. “That child will break into song while doing the dishes,” Kim shares with a laugh.

    Full Story
  • Sophia


    Last New Year’s Eve, while many of us were cheerfully ringing in 2021 with friends and family, 5-year-old Sophia and her parents were grappling with devastating news.

    Full Story
  • Tristan


    If you’re a member of our monthly giving program, you’ve probably seen his smiling face before. Now, you can learn more about the brave kid behind the mask.

    Full Story
  • photo of a girl with no hair


    In August 2020, I was moving into my freshmen dorm at the University of Pittsburgh, ready to take on college. Little did I know I’d be moving out just a semester later.

    Full Story