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Even before she was diagnosed, Naomi Pitts knew something was wrong – and that it was very bad. She was playing volleyball for her middle school at the time, and she realized she was tiring too quickly.
Naomi's mother, Christine, encouraged her to keep on working hard at volleyball practice, but when the fatigue continued she decided to take her daughter in for an emergency department visit. “Within an hour of seeing her, the ED doctor came out and told us it was cancer,” Christine recalls.
Naomi took the news calmly, but Christine says it took her a week to believe the diagnosis was real. “Finally, though, I said to Naomi, ‘God heals ALL manner of diseases and He will heal you. Do you believe this with me?’ She said that she did, and our journey began!”
Naomi had been diagnosed with Stage III anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a rare type of blood cancer seldom seen in females. Pediatric cancer specialists at The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Alabama determined that the cancer in her neck had already spread to her spleen and upper and lower abdomen. Early treatment was aggressive and involved injections into Naomi’s spine – a procedure so painful that she had to be sedated.
Naomi’s treatment lasted a year, with the first six months being the most challenging. Ten days into chemotherapy, her hair began to fall out. “As I helped pull the hair away from her scalp, she told me, ‘Mom, I think it bothers you more than it bothers me. I’m just glad to be out of pain,’” Christine recalls.
Still, the chemotherapy was brutal and it drained Naomi of her strength. Christine says she saw her daughter’s spirit fading. “I prayed for God to restore her joy and that beautiful smile that I missed so much. And, because I knew Naomi loved to draw, I bought art supplies for her and asked her to draw me some pictures. But she just told me she was too tired.”
But that changed when they heard about an inpatient art therapy class at Children’s. “It was as if God had put it in place just for us,” Christine says. “Naomi would go down to the playroom for an art class and talk and paint with other kids going through the same thing. The day she came out of that first class, I saw Naomi smile.”
“Naomi is a true fighter, but even a fighter needs a little help sometimes,” Christine says. “We found it in prayer and through art therapy. Thank God, Naomi smiled!”
Today, 13-year-old Naomi is happily back at school. “I'm in the eighth grade now, and I manage to get straight As and a B here or there,” she says. “I'm on my school’s debate team, and I enjoy doing that – and I will be trying out for the volleyball team again soon.”
“I also try to find community service to do because I enjoy getting out and doing those types of things,” she continues. “I am always on the lookout for good opportunities – like being a Champion for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals!”
In February, Naomi learned she had been selected to represent the entire state of Alabama in this national program to raise awareness of the life-saving, life-changing work – and the everyday miracles – taking place in children’s hospitals throughout the United States and Canada.