Patient with cancer in the hospital

Commemorating a Year of Healing: Sophia's Story

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 — doctors had discovered a tumor in her pelvis.

Throughout the year, Sophia and her family spent countless hours traveling to UPMC Children’s from New Castle, Pa. In the neighborly spirit Pittsburgh is known for, Sophia received lots of love and support while she was receiving treatments. 

Learn more about how philanthropy fuels pediatric cancer research

When Sophia arrived at the hospital that New Year’s Eve, she refused to wear her hospital gown. The nursing staff brought her a new nightgown that had been donated to the unit. Sophia’s mom Alyssa said, “[that nightgown] put the biggest smile on her face. She still wears it to this day.” 

When Sophia’s hair began to fall out from chemotherapy, she struggled with having to part with her blonde locks. Her nurse Sam not only offered to cut Sophia’s hair but also promised that, in return, Sophia could cut his!

After a year of intensive chemotherapy, surgery, and physical and occupational therapy, Sophia’s treatment came to an end in October 2021 when she received the news that she was cancer-free! Sophia got to ring in 2022 happy, healthy, and thankful for her excellent care and the dedicated staff at UPMC Children’s.

Give Now

More Stories

Stories of Hope and Healing

  • Rosie

    Rosie

    You can’t help but smile around Tony and Sarah and their 8-year-old daughter, Rosie.

    Full Story
  • Anna

    Anna

    In 2019, after weeks of unexplained headaches, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, Jennifer took her 11-year-old daughter, Anna, to the emergency department in Erie, Pa.

    Full Story
  • D'Kaiden

    D'Kaiden

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

    Full Story
  • Juju

    Juju

    “Pittsburgh is Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, and we need to be 'helpers' when called,” says Katie about sharing her daughter’s story.

    Full Story
  • Landon

    Landon

    Get to know another one of our featured fighters for the Heroes in Healing program. Meet Landon.

    Full Story
  • Mackenzie

    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

    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
  • Sophia

    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

    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

    Delanee

    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
  • girl smiling and holding a puppy

    Harper

    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.

    Full Story
  • boy sits on a hospital bed smiling

    Joey

    Joey was busy living his life as a normal 7-year-old boy, playing flag football at his local YMCA, attending first grade, and wrestling with his little brother Finnegan and his dog Sophie.

    Full Story
  • black and white photo of girl with hair wrap smiling

    Lowin

    Our D-Day, diagnosis day, we were delivered devastating news, “Your daughter has a very large mass in her brain.”

    Full Story