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Young Cancer Survivor Champions Arkansas Children's Northwest

There’s no worse way to get the news that your child has cancer than in an emergency room, hours from home, in the middle of the night. 

That was the beginning of Addison Alford’s  story with Arkansas Children’s — but thanks to you, it wasn’t the end. Since that awful night in January 2015, Addison, who lives in Farmington with her mom, stepdad, and five brothers, has gotten the treatment she needs to fight her illness. Just as importantly, her entire family has gotten the caring support they needed to get them through some unimaginably tough times.

Robby knew something was seriously wrong when Addison began fainting at school in early 2015. Her pediatrician couldn’t find an obvious cause at first, but eventually ordered a full blood workup. One night in January 2015, Addison’s doctor called with the results: Addison’s white blood cell count was six times higher than normal. She told Robby to take her daughter to Arkansas Children’s Hospital right away.

After the three-hour drive to Little Rock, Addison was seen in the Emergency Department at ACH and diagnosed with high risk b-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She started chemotherapy treatments immediately. For the next year, she traveled to Little Rock frequently. Her chemo treatments were working, but she often had complications requiring overnight stays in the hospital. 

Through it all, Robby says, the nurses and other staff at ACH ensure Addison go to enjoy her childhood as much as possible. She was in the hospital for her 9th birthday, so the ACH Child Life team arranged a small party in a meeting room. When she lost a tooth during one stay, the Tooth Fairy pulled out all the stops: a handwritten card, glitter, and a hefty reward. When Addison’s best friend brought her a doll, one of the nurses helped Addison rig up a doll-sized chemo port and IVs, just like hers.

“Those nurses are like big sisters and Sunday school teachers and nurses and friends all in one person,” Addison’s mom, Robby Funk, says. "They never let you know if they’re having a busy night. You think your child is their only patient and this is all they have to do.”

Addison is doing great now: she’ll be in the 7trh grade this fall. Addison has turned her focus toward helping other children. She loves holding fundraisers like bake sales and lemonade stands to raise money for research into childhood cancers. 

“She just wants to be very helpful and do everything possible to bring awareness about the new children’s hospital in Springdale,” Robby says. “We all do. We’ve become very passionate about that.”

Now she receives her follow up appointments at Arkansas Children’s Northwest and has access to the pediatric care she needs close to home. For Addison’s family, having Arkansas Children’s Northwest in their backyard makes a world of difference and makes what use to be a day-long trip for treatment into a quick clinic visit down the road.

Addison proudly serves as an ACNW Ambassador and as the 2018 Champion Child for Will Golf 4 Kids Tournament and Color of Hope Gala benefiting Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale. This year, the Color of Hope Gala is scheduled for Friday, August 3 at John Q Hammons Center in Rogers. It's a wonderful way to show your support for children like Addison. Tables and tickets are still available! For more information, visit www.golfandgala.com.

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