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‘Miss Personality’ | Health beat

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Queen Hardy was pedaling across the grass with her arms and legs circling.

The pink and teal unicorn on her shirt sparkled in the sun.

Your glasses too.

Your eyes.

Your smile.

Everything, really.

This is how this 8-year-old girl greets the world – full of energy and enthusiasm.

Even last year when she underwent leukemia treatment, Queen didn’t lose that shine.

“With everything she’s been through, she’s still going strong,” said her mother, Markesha Jennings. “She’s had her bad days, but she still has a smile on her face.”

Now that Queen is in remission and receiving maintenance chemotherapy, the most difficult period of treatment is behind her.

And that means she can go back to school. And plays in the front yard with her 3 year old sister Ariss.

She performed wheel strokes, round-ups, backbends and handstands.

She led Ariss by the hand up a few porch steps. They laughed as they jumped on the grass.

“Nice, lovely,” said Markesha as she sat on the porch. “I’m just saying, ‘Thank you, God. Thank you thank you.”

A rare form of leukemia

Queen Lyris Hardy called by her father Edward Hardy, Queen has grown to be her name.

“She’s so energetic and funny,” said Markesha. “She’s just adorable.”

Markesha recalls the day Queen showed symptoms for the first time: June 15, 2020. Queen, then 7 years old, said her right arm felt sore. At first Markesha thought she had bumped while playing.

“She was whining and crying at night, so we decided to take her to the hospital,” said Markesha.

In the emergency room at Spectrum Health Helen DeVo’s Children’s Hospital, Queen had an MRI followed by a bone marrow scan.

Pediatric oncologist Sharon Smith, MD, met with Markesha and Queen and explained that Queen’s bone marrow cells had been replaced with leukemia cells.

Queen moved to the ninth floor of the hospital that day to begin treatment.

Queen had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Further tests showed that she had a rare form of it – called the Philadelphia chromosome positive.

“Only 3% to 5% of children with leukemia have this subtype,” said Dr. Smith.

The disease used to have a poor prognosis, but in the past decade a new drug has hit the market that targets the proteins made by the affected chromosomes. It has significantly improved survival rates, said Dr. Smith.

Queen took the drug dasatinib with aggressive chemotherapy.

Her chemotherapy infusions required regular hospitalizations in the Ethie Haworth Children’s Cancer Center at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for the next 11 months.

Treatment complications, such as infection, required additional hospitalizations.

Queen quickly made friends with her health team members.

“She loved the nurses and the nurses loved her,” said Markesha. “It only lights up one room. She always dances. “

“She’s absolutely delightful,” agreed Dr. Smith too. “She’s like Miss Personality. She loves to interact with her providers and tell jokes. “

On hard days, Queen was a little quieter. She saw films or colored pictures. And most of the days she stayed in the hospital, she made a TikTok video.

The queen’s fashion sense extended to her wigs as well. After her hair fell out, she had five wigs in her collection – including one from her grandmother.

Every day she chose her wig according to her mood.

Back home and school

In May, Queen began a milder maintenance phase of chemotherapy.

Instead of going to the hospital for IVs, she takes her medication at home. Every morning she swallows five pills and liquid medicine.

“When her doctor told her she could go to summer school, she was so happy,” said Markesha. “She couldn’t wait to return.”

Queen is now in third grade and is looking forward to celebrating her ninth birthday this fall. Your favorite part of school? Eat breakfast and lunch.

Markesha is amazed at how joyful her daughter jumped back into everyday life at home and at school.

“It was just a little hiccup for her. A scratch, ”said Markesha. “She is so strong.”

Where does this strength come from? Markesha spoke to her daughter about courage on a recent visit to the oncology clinic. Queen sat on the exam table and colored pictures while she waited for Dr. Smith, a nurse and specialist in child life.

“Do you think you are strong?” Markesha asked.

“Yes,” said Queen.


“I do not know.” Queen kept her head bowed and concentrated on the coloring. “Because I’m brave?”

“Why are you brave?” asked her mother.

“Because you are brave.”

Markesha smiled. “I think it’s the other way around,” she said. “I think I am brave because you are so brave.”

In the future, Queen hopes to become a gymnast.

Her mother hopes “that the cancer will stay away. And that Queen is her happy self – as if she had been through everything. “

Dr. Smith, who sees her at regular clinic appointments, hopes for a healthy future for Queen.

“She has an excellent prognosis,” she said. “I expect her to continue with whatever else she wants to do in life.”

Thank You For Reading!


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