Lolo was a happy and active ten-year-old when she was diagnosed with pediatric Acute Myelocytic Leukemia on December 12, 2012. She spent the next six months at Children’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska isolated from her classmates and critically ill. Lolo had a strong spirit, a wonderful medical team, and the constant support of her loving family. This combined with many prayers helped her leave the hospital for the last time, or so we thought, on June 4, 2013. Lolo was in remission. She slowly gained her strength and was able to enter school in the fall as a 6th grade student at St. Margaret Mary School. Lolo was able to return to volleyball and worked very hard getting caught up in school. Each year she seemed to gain more strength and we prayed that she would be cancer free someday. However, we also knew that pediatric AML had a high rate of relapse. We never took any time we had for granted.
On the night of Lolo’s fourteenth birthday party, our family learned that Lolo’s leukemia had returned after almost three years of remission. With her characteristic positive attitude and loving spirit, Lolo entered the hospital, once again, to fight for her life. This time, her leukemia had appeared as a myeloid sarcoma in her leg. After surgery to her leg, 4 months of intense chemotherapy, and radiation, Lolo’s hope was to start high school as a freshman with her classmates. She was weak and immune suppressed, but she walked into the halls of Marian High School with her class, bald head held high! Lolo’s connection to the many friends she has known since kindergarten are part of her driving force.
July 25, 2016 was the last day of hospitalization for Lolo. Her last chemotherapy was on July 2, 2016. Our hope is that her leukemia will now remain in remission permanently. Lolo will be considered cancer free if she stays in remission until July 2, 2021. We look forward to celebrating on this day.
Lolo is currently a senior at Omaha Marian High School. She plans to attend college and become a pediatric oncology nurse to help kids like her. In the meantime, Lolo helps kids with cancer in other ways: she serves as president of the Junior Board of Lolo’s Angels, Inc., and she recently interned at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in July 2019 under the guidance of her beloved researcher, Dr. Soheil Meshinchi. In her spare time, Lolo still adores Taylor Swift, hangs with her friends, and her 3 dogs (Leila, Maddie, & Ruby) and cat (Touleries-Tutu).
To read more about Lolo’s journey, click here.
When Lolo was first hospitalized in 2012, all she wanted was to be back in school with her classmates. On a snow day, when all the kids were eager to play in the snow, a few of those classmates learned that she was sad to be stuck in a hospital room. A friend used social media to invite the class to make snow angels for Lolo. Within a short time, most of her classmates were making snow angels on the lawn outside of her hospital window. One of the moms used blue dye to spell out “Lolo’s Angels,” and the idea of how to support a friend in need was born.
Being a child with leukemia is painful enough, but the accompanying isolation can be downright devastating. The love these classmates shared with Lolo–their simple act of creating snow angels–imbued her with the hope, strength and courage she needed to continue her fight. Lolo’s Angels has proudly adopted the “snow angel” as our logo as a reminder that simple gestures towards positive change can have a profound and perhaps life-saving effect on a difficult situation. It was obvious to her family that the central drive of Lolo’s fight was to return to being a kid!
Our logo was designed by former Lolo’s Angels board member Maggie Crnkovitch Van Moorleghem, complete with Lolo’s favorite colors.
During Lolo’s fight with cancer, her story spread quickly. Families were devoted to praying for Lolo, encouraging her, and rallying her back to health.
One means of encouragement was for supporters to take a picture of themselves near a landmark or other place of significance with a sign that read, “Go Lolo, Go” and post it on social media. The Hacker family printed the pictures and hung them in Lolo’s room. Her room was covered in wonderful pictures from around the world with signs of support for her! This was a great escape for Lauren when she was in pain or felt isolated from the world; she liked to dream about all of the places she would travel someday, and she spent much time on her iPad researching the places in the pictures.
The pictures came from all over–Scotland, Australia, Japan, Brazil–from families, classmates, strangers, the Governor of Nebraska, and even the Dalai Lama!
You’ll notice that many of Lolo’s Angels social media posts include the hashtag #GoLoloGo. For Lolo, this has become her rally cry. For our organization, it has become a continued reminder of our love for this child, which has spread to encompass the love of so many children: children currently fighting cancer, who have survived cancer, and the children who have earned their wings as a result of cancer, forever alive in the hearts and minds of their families.
To view these pictures, click here.
For additional details about this story read the Omaha World Herald story by columnist Erin Grace.
Copyright © 2020 Lolo's Angels, Inc.
Lolo's Angels, Inc. is a 501c3 non-profit. Donations are tax-deductible.