From a high school student to cancer patient, a 15-year-old girl is helping break down barriers in cancer treatment in San Antonio.
In between watching her dance videos and talking about sports, Kristina Valadez’s cell phone never leaves her hands. The pain she got just holding that cell phone led to her leukemia diagnosis.
"My knees and wrists started hurting a lot." Kristina said.
She thought that the pain was from injuries related to her dancing, but the pain wouldn't go away.
By her own admission, it took awhile for the news to sink in.
After the diagnosis, she not only endured several rounds of chemo but also prepared to be the first bone marrow transplant at the Children's Hospital of San Antonio.
"Without getting a bone marrow transplant, the likelihood her cancer would come back was very very high," Dr. Veronica Jude said.
Ten months ago, Kristina's doctor joined Children's Hospital to kick start the transplant program so they could continue their treatment in the same hospital instead of having to go to another facility.
It all came together for the first time when Kristina's 14-year-old sister matched as a donor, making the hospital the first stand-alone children's hospital in the San Antonio area that can do this kind of treatment.
"There are a lot of families, for example, that are from South Texas, El Paso, and Corpus where there are no bone marrow transplant programs there," Dr. Jude said.
Kristina is now in remission.