Meet Natalia: 2017 Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day Hero

Natalia was having intermittent leg pain for several weeks. According to her mother, Natalia’s older brother had been having nightly growing painsbut hers seemed to be different somehow. After a night of extreme pain and her pediatrician subsequently noticing raised bumps on her leg, eight-year-old Natalia underwent an MRI and was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma—a rare form of bone cancer. Suddenly, her focus in life turned from the normal jitters of starting at a new school to wondering if she would ever walk again.

rsz_st_josephs_childrens_hospital_ricabal_natalia.jpg“I never imagined that I would have to deal with a child with cancer and intermittent disabilities. It could happen to anyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, and religion. It has certainly opened up my understanding, compassion, and empathy toward those who are disabled and chronically ill,” said Natalia’s mother, Amy. “These kids need to have the highest quality of life possible—a feeling of normalcy within their medical condition.”

Now 12 years old, Natalia has undergone multiple surgeries and treatmentsincluding a limb salvage procedure to replace her femur with a cadaver bone, a year of aggressive chemotherapy, a month of daily radiation treatment, and substantial physical therapy.

Not one to let her cancer define her, Natalia loves singing, spending time at the beach, cooking, and creating art.

Help us welcome Natalia to Washington, D.C.!

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