KINGS MOUNTAIN, NC (WBTV) - "My 16-month-old has been diagnosed with cancer."
That's how the email began about Lilyanna Grace Johnson. This little girl was diagnosed with myeloid sarcoma six weeks ago.
Doctors are giving Lilyanna three different types of chemo right now.
The family is from Kings Mountain, but Kristy and little Lilyanna are currently at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
"She's doing really well," Kristy said. "She's strong. It's amazing she's so little but so, so strong."
Husband Steven and their three other daughters – ages 16, 13 and 5 – travel to Memphis every weekend that they can. They're actually on their way right now.
Lilyanna is almost done with a second round of aggressive chemo. After that, she'll get CT scans and then a third round of chemo will begin.
Kristy and Lilyanna will most likely be in Memphis for another six months. "We'll do whatever we need to do," Kristy said. "It's tough, but it's working. The first round of scans show the cancer is shrinking significantly."
I talked tonight with Kristy over the phone. She had one message she wanted to make clear.
"Just because your child can't tell you what's going on, doesn't mean there isn't anything wrong," she said. "Follow your gut. If you feel like you're not being listened to by your doctor, take them elsewhere. Insist on more testing. You know your child best."
Kristy says if it wasn't for her pushing and taking Lilyanna to a doctor everyday for a week, Lily would have died.
"You are their mouthpiece," Kristy said. "I can't say it enough."
When talking with Kristy, I was struck with her calm voice despite the loud chaos behind her at the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) House in Memphis where she's staying. "This is life now," she said. "At least until we can get my sweet girl better and bring her back home to North Carolina."
You can find out more about Lily at her Facebook page Love for Lily.
Welcome to #MollysKids, Lilyanna. You're beautiful.
**Editor's note: This is about one of #MollysKids, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. It was first published there – which is why it's written in a personal way. For years Molly has followed hundreds of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story (and updates on all #MollysKids) here.**