When I Grow Up: Childhood Cancer and Sickle Cell Awareness Month

Think back to when you were a kid. What did you want to be when you grew up? Maybe you didn’t end up becoming a mail man, hair stylist or firefighter, but what if you never even had the chance to find out?

In honor of national childhood cancer and sickle cell awareness month, we asked a few of our patients at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center what they wanted to be when they grew up and then facilitated a photo shoot to allow them the experience a ‘day in the life’ in this profession.

Through these visuals, we get a glimpse into the joy these patients experience outside of our hospital walls and celebrate their ongoing fight against pediatric cancer and blood disorders.

Ariana, 15, wants to be a chef when she grows up.


Ariana has found peace and happiness in cooking while recovering from the BMT and staying in the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House. She was even participated in “MasterChef Junior,” a national cooking show for kids in California. Her favorite thing to cook is chicken alfredo, in addition to baking cupcakes for patients at Children’s who are staying in the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House.

Alivia, 7, wants to be a hair stylist.

After strep throat didn’t go away with antibiotics, bloodwork indicated Alivia had acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Her first round of chemo wasn’t helping get rid of the leukemia, so doctors scheduled Alivia to undergo a blood and marrow transplant (BMT) on Aug. 27. She will remain in the hospital for about 100 days, first in the BMT Unit for post-transplant observation and care, then the remainder of her time in the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House.

When treatment for the transplant is completed, Alivia looks forward to going home, and she hopes her hair grows back curly and that her mom can dye it pink just like her favorite wig. Alivia’s mom, Denise, has been a hair stylist for 11 years. Alivia has told her that she, too, would like to be a stylist when she grows up. She loves to shampoo hair, blow dry it and flat iron it. She’s trying to learn how to make curls.

Andrew, 7, wants to be a professional soccer player.

After struggling to breathe on the basketball court last winter and multiple visits to the pediatrician, Andrew was referred to the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Emergency Department for additional bloodwork. And just two days before Thanksgiving 2018, they received very difficult news—Andrew was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Andrew was immediately admitted into the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center to begin chemotherapy treatments.

Today, Andrew is in the maintenance phase which will last about two years and includes additional medicine and check-ups for monitoring the disease. Andrew is excited to return to playing soccer, a sport he loves because of the non-stop running and scoring goals.

Matthew, 16, wants to be a doctor and researcher.