CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - TODAY is Lydia Hess's last day of chemotherapy.
"Lydia is now officially in remission from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia!" she said. "She danced outside the hospital to celebrate."
Lydia is five years old. Her family has been counting down to today for 2.5 years.
"In January of 2014 we thought we had a healthy, happy family of four," said Julie, Lydia's mom. "Lydia was a typical toddler involved in preschool, church and took swim lessons with her older brother Owen. She suddenly started picking up every little germ. She kept getting sick. We thought it was normal being the winter and interacting with other kids…."
It wasn't normal. Many hospital visits later Lydia was diagnosed with cancer.
"There were days she was fighting side effects far scarier than the leukemia," Julie says. "We were heartbroken and confused. We were in disbelief and gripped with fear. Mostly, we were sad for our baby girl."
Lydia spent 100+ nights in the hospital, had dozens of spinal taps, multiple blood transfusions, countless scans, many needle pokes and rigorous chemo going on until this week.
She took it all like a champ.
"Always. Always, always, always smiling," Julie says. "Our 5-year-old has taught us attitude is everything."
Now, here's an added twist.
Lydia's cousin, Keira, is her best friend. They're a month apart in age. Keira, who lives in Charlotte, has been trying to understand why her sidekick didn't have hair and she did.
So, last year sweet Keira (and her mom) decided to donate 8-inches of hair to Children With Hair Loss in honor of Lydia. She got it done at the Birkdale Village Snip-Its in Huntersville, NC.
"We wanted to donate it to raise awareness for childhood cancer," said Karen Showalter, Lydia's aunt and Keira's mom.
A great story to share for our September #MollysKids because Keira took ACTION to create AWARENESS.
Got to love when kids show us how to lead the way.
Congrats, Lydia. Keep dancing. Today is YOUR day.
**Editor's note: This is about one of #MollysKids in the month of September, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. This article was first published there – maybe you'll be able to tell that in the personal way it's written. For years Molly has followed the stories of dozens of kids with uphill medical battles. During Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, she features one a day. Thirty total. Find this story (and updates on all of #MollysKids) here.