CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - Concord’s 8-year-old Lexi Cunningham is well on her way to reclaiming her life.
Two years ago, a precautionary trip to the hospital for a swollen elbow led to Lexi's leukemia diagnosis. Despite years of complications caused by chemotherapy, she went into remission with less than 0.0002% cancer cells in her blood and was told to continue on with maintenance chemo for two more years.
Well, those two years have now passed.
Lexi rang the remission bell January 10th.
“We didn’t get any great photos of Lexi ringing it because she was pretty emotional and cried as soon as she saw the crowd of fifty friends and family who came to cheer her on,” her mom Sarah said. “So, I held her hand and we did it together. It’s not a flattering photo, but it is raw and real. It perfectly sums up our feelings that day.”
Lexi has been under the care of St. Jude Affiliate Clinic at Novant Health Hemby Children's.... As you guys know, any child who gets their treatments through St. Jude doesn’t have to pay for the medical care. It’s a true gift. Which is why Lexi’s family says they now want to to give back and help in return.
Here’s how they've done so:
- Lexi and her best friend, Mia, raised almost $7,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
- On December 7th, Lexi’s dad, Thomas, ran in the St. Jude’s marathon in Memphis. He pledged to raise $3,000 and run all 26.2 miles. Best part thought? Lexi put the medal on him at the finish line.
- Because Lexi spent Christmas 2017 in the hospital, she felt compelled to buy gifts for the children who couldn’t go home for the holidays this past year. Even though she had a spinal tap the same day she was going to deliver the toys, the giving was all she cared about.
“Her only concern was we make it to the hospital with enough time to deliver them before her lumbar puncture,” Sarah said. “Be still my beating heart.”
Sarah says she’s learned from her daughter, and husband.
“Never give up, never back down, and always give it everything you’ve got,” she said. “Thomas finished his race and Lexi finished hers.”
Bravery and compassion. Beautiful things.
PS: Life didn’t slow down for the Cunningham family as they adjusted to life without leukemia. Within the first three-weeks cancer-free, Lexi broke her arm AND got the flu.
*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.