Jalaysha Carter, a 5-year-old girl from Mobile who is winning her battle with cancer, has been chosen to represent the state of Alabama for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ Champions program in 2011.
Jalaysha has been treated at the University of South Alabama Children’s & Women’s Hospital for ganglioneuroblastoma, a type of cancer. She was selected and is being honored because of her courage in overcoming her illness.
“We’re all very proud of Jalaysha and happy that she has been recognized as a state champion,” Owen Bailey, administrator of USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital, said at a news conference held at the Sam’s Club store at Springdale Mall. “We’re grateful for our relationship with Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, which are strong supporters of our hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champions program.”
When she was 2, Jalaysha was diagnosed with an unusual type of ganglioneuroblastoma. In most cases, neuroblastoma pushes the body’s central organs out of the way as it forms. In Jalaysha’s case, the cancer grafted itself onto her liver, her kidney and her aorta. She underwent three complex surgeries - each more than seven hours long - to remove the operable portions of the tumors. Because of its location, the remaining tumor on her aorta cannot be removed and must be monitored closely throughout her life. Jalaysha also bravely endured difficult chemotherapy treatments that spanned two years.
“For them to honor and select ‘Lay Lay’ to represent the state of Alabama - out of all those children, they chose her - we're just so happy and excited about that,” her grandmother, Cynthia Spencer, said at the news conference.
The Champions program brings together children from across the United States that have tackled severe medical challenges. They represent the 17 million children that are treated at 170 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals every year. Through the Champions program, they will support fundraising campaigns for USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital throughout the year. In October, they will visit Washington, D.C. and Walt Disney World to inspire others to support children’s hospitals.
In Washington, Jalaysha and the other Champions will visit the White House and Capitol Hill, where they will meet with Alabama representatives to share their stories. Following their trip to the nation’s capitol, the Champions and their families take part in Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ annual Celebration event in Orlando, Fla. Celebration unites hospitals, sponsors and celebrities to celebrate achievements, share best practices and honor the children who benefit from Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ fundraising efforts.