In Their Own Words
Anna was not even four years old when she became sick.
She always complained that her back hurt, but our doctor disregarded Anna’s complaints as cries for attention. She kept growing more and more pale, so I took her to the hospital. She was diagnosed with Atypical HUS.
After Anna’s first diagnosis, she was in remission for five years, and during that time became involved in gymnastics — her dream is to become an Olympic gymnast. She always worked so hard to get the best scores at her competitions. When Anna was nine, she relapsed right before state competitions, but recuperated just in time to attend and won several medals. Nine months later, however, she relapsed yet again, and it was at that point that she had to quit the sport.
It was this final relapse that changed everything. We were a normal family that suddenly was split apart. While one parent was at the hospital taking care of Anna’s needs, the other was at home taking care of the needs of our other children. Sometimes Anna was able to have a sibling come over to spend time with her. We visited Anna as often as possible, but we couldn’t just put the lives of our other children on hold. We had to keep moving forward.
One week, doctors would tell us Anna was in remission. A few weeks later, we’d be admitting her to the hospital all over again. It was hard. It made it impossible to make any plans for the family. The hospital became our second home.
As difficult as our situation is, we have all learned how to cope. With God’s help and the help of friends and some kind strangers, we’ve become stronger as a family. Anna has also taken a bad situation and used it to bring good into the world. She befriends other children in the hospital in the hopes of brightening their lives a bit. Many people tell us they’re inspired by Anna’s joy, and because of my daughter we have met so many people from different walks of life. Honestly, we’ve become better people.
In 2008, some friends in the hospital told us about Starlight. Since then, we have enjoyed all of the plays and movies and parties and good food and gifts that have come our way because of Starlight. It is amazing how much it helps to go out and have fun, especially when you can’t afford it. My children are excited every time they hear about an upcoming Great Escape.
Anna has given my family the chance to have many great experiences with some friendly and generous people — from the hospital, from Starlight — that otherwise would not have been possible.
Thank you to everyone that makes this organization possible for families like us.
-Svetlana, Starlight mom
To help Starlight reach out to more families like Svetlana and Anna’s, please make a gift today.