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Gold Ribbon Hero: Lilliana

Tag Archives: Golden Ribbon Hero

Meet Lilliana, a survivor of Burkitt’s lymphoma!grh lilliana  

Lilli loves to draw and paint, and is currently looking at colleges to pursue a career as a social worker.

Lilli was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at the age of 13 on September 13, 2013 and was understandably scared and upset. Shortly after her initial diagnosis, the family got a call saying it was much more serious saying they needed to pack their bags for a two week stay in the hospital. Lilli was diagnosed with stage 4 Burkitt’s lymphoma.

Treatment was intense for Lilli, she endured seven long months of chemotherapy and spinal taps. She had a port placed in her chest and shortly after had to have it removed due to a severe infection. “I faced many challenges during my treatment both physical and mental but during the whole time I never let myself get a bad attitude about any of it.

“Personally, as a 13-year-old girl, my biggest trouble was feeling confident without my hair. During that time, I did not feel pretty and the only pretty thing about myself was my hair; but, I overcame it and learned that I was beautiful no matter what” said Lilli.

On April 8, 2014 Lilli was cleared for remission and in June of 2019 she was declared out of remission! She is now 19 and attends the survivorship clinic at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital for check ups at least once a year. Please join ACCO in sending Lilli well wishes in her future endeavors.

Lilli was featured in a Buzzfeed article about her journey. Read her firsthand story here:
Learn more about childhood cancer here:

Donate to help kids like Lilli fight cancer:


GRH_ Natalie












Meet Natalie, a 12 year old aspiring astronaut who wants to become the first woman to walk on the moon! This courageous and determined little girl is a wilm’s tumor survivor!

At three years of age, Natalie was diagnosed with a bilateral Wilm’s tumor. Symptoms started with a swollen stomach and developed into vomiting and constipation.  Her pediatrician ordered an x-ray of her abdomen and initially said it was stool in the images. As a precaution, labs were drawn which came back showing Natalie was severely anemic. She was sent home and ended up in the Cincinnati Children’s ER that night. The family was in the ultrasound room for more than an hour before receiving the diagnosis.

Natalie was immediately admitted into the ICU and chemo started within a few days. A month later Natalie was rushed into emergency surgery in septic shock due to complications and as a result, the tumor and her right kidney were removed. After two months in the hospital, Natalie was released. Four months after the initial diagnosis, Natalie had surgery to help salvage her left kidney however doctors had to remove it and place her on dialysis. Over the next year, she was put under daily chemo and dialysis treatments. In October of 2012, Natalie received a life saving kidney transplant from a family member.

Today, Natalie is a normal 12 year old who loves spending time with family, drawing and participating in drama club. She was officially cured in October 2016 and is very thankful to be a survivor. She still has to go in for labs and doctors visits, but according to her mom Tracy, “she handles all of that like the pro she is.”

Please join ACCO in sending well wishes to the young astronaut to-be, Natalie!

For more information about Wilm’s tumors, please visit:

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Meet Naomi, a kind-hearted little girl who loves unicorns and helping people. Naomi is currently on treatment battling Pinealoblastoma, a subtype of a brain tumor and spinal cord tumor. grh naomi

Red flags started to arise after Naomi collapsed in school; she didn’t even know her name. Naomi visited the emergency room several times before doctors finally took a closer look. They found a mass in her pineal region and immediately sent her to Children’s in Cincinnati. On October 3rd, Naomi and her parents were given the diagnosis of stage four pineoblastoma with metastasis in the spine.  “We got the MRI results and they took us in a big room. It took my breath. I couldn’t believe it. All I wanted to do was go grab her and hold her. We were lost” her father, Kenneth, remembers.

The treatment plan for Naomi is rigorous consisting of 30 proton radiation treatments and six months of chemotherapy. October of 2019, Naomi had four brain surgeries and doctors told the family that if they got all of the cancer and it comes back, there is nothing they can do.

Naomi is a kind soul. While in the hospital, she bagged up her Halloween candy and passed it to the children that didn’t get to go trick or treating. She is working to start a teddy bear drive to donate to the hospital. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy for the next few months. Please help ACCO by sending her well wishes!

Follow Naomi’s story here:

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Meet Frank “Sal,” a 16-year-old sports enthusiast and Lumineers fan. At the age of 14, Sal was diagnosed with germ cell testicular cancer and is currently in remission! IMG_3438

Sal was complaining of a swollen testicle after a bike accident and his parents took him into the doctor’s to check it out. Instead, they were sent straight to the emergency room after the doctor suspected it might be ruptured. Within ten minutes, the doctor informed Sal and his parents that it was testicular cancer. Initial impressions were scared and upset but Sal was determined to beat it.

His treatment was accelerated by receiving a total of 28 chemotherapy treatments. The treatments were rigorous; both in and outpatient and once the initial 24 treatments were complete, they were sent for four additional outpatient treatments. “He went through treatments like a champ, now he can help other children to see that they can get back to normal,” his mother, Elizabeth said. During his journey, Sal had abdominal surgery to remove a mass from his kidney where his cancer had spread.

Elizabeth remembers, “I was diagnosed two years ago with breast cancer and I am currently 1.5 years in remission. I thought I handled my diagnosis and treatments like a pro until I watched my son go through this. He blew me away. He never complained, sat in the hospital for six days in a row, 24 treatments over seven weeks and still smiled for pictures. When he lost his hair, I cried, not him. He has been unbelievably strong through this.”Sal

During treatment, Sal was not able to join the football team, however he has joined the track team and already earned second place in a conference for his long jump. According to his mom, “Frank is the most giving kid, he plans to advocate that you can make it and do bigger and greater things even when you feel like rock bottom.”


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grh AdrianMeet Adrian, a shark and travel enthusiast that was diagnosed with Pituitary Germinoma at the age of 16. 

Adrian’s symptoms started in August 2017 when he was complaining of frequent headaches accompanied by nausea and vomiting. In October 2017, an MRI was taken of his brain revealing a mass in his pituitary region which compressed his left optic nerve.

On November 10, 2017, Adrian underwent his first brain surgery to remove the top portion of his tumor however the rest of the mass was not able to be removed. The top portion of the tumor was sent to the lab revealing Intracranial Pituitary Germinoma.  Just 12 days later, Adrian was sent back into brain surgery to remove built up fluid on his brain.

Adrian’s mom, Veronica said “we were already devastated seeing him come out of a brain surgery. We were so nervous, but once we heard it was actually cancer, I cannot put it into words the devastation, fear, anger and a million feelings/thoughts/emotions we experienced. As a parent, it is the most devastating thing to hear that your child has cancer.”

Adrian began his first round of chemotherapy leaving him very weak. Three weeks later, he started his second round of therapy. In total, Adrian completed four rounds of chemotherapy and followed with 21 days of radiation.

Through all of the treatments, Adrian did not complain about his pain or struggles. Cancer gave Adrian a new outlook on life and his hope is that all affected with cancer around the world are cured of cancer and can live fulfilling and happy lives.

Adrian was awarded two separate trips which ultimately brought the family closer together in their journey. On his wish trip, Adrian was able to go shark diving, cave diving, and swim with the dolphins. “It allowed us to live in the moment with one another, something that we hadn’t really done because we would always anticipate every appointment, every chemo cycle, every surgery. It was something we were always anticipating, whether it was his health, we were always worrying. It just gave us just that hope to look forward to the future and not think about those things,” explained Veronica.edit2

Adrian is now 18, and thriving as a survivor.  He is currently being monitored by oncology every three months and is on hormone replacement therapy for his pituitary gland. Please join us in sending well wishes to Adrian and his family!

For more information about childhood cancer please visit:

Nominate your Gold Ribbon Hero here:



Meet Grace – a sweet and spirited 9 year old and one of our Ambassadors for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Grace is a generous and giving individual with a passion to help others and brighten their days. She is strong and courageous, even when things might not be easy.

Grace is a typical 9-year-old, she loves gymnastics, softball, riding her bike, reading, painting and swimming. She also loves playing with her friends. This little warrior exudes good vibes and positive energy 24/7. For every birthday, Grace requested that in lieu of gifts, money should be donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Little did she know, she might be the recipient of services from them in the future.grace2

Aubrey, Grace’s mom, said “Grace was always the tallest in her class, and then one day she wasn’t. She was drinking a lot of water, so it warranted a closer look. A proactive pediatrician and endocrinologist ordered a brain MRI which resulted in the detection of a mass around Grace’s pituitary gland dangerously close to her optic nerves.”  The initial tumor was detected on April 9, 2018 and over the next few weeks, Grace endured scans at the neurosurgeons office. After discussing things with the doctor at length, Grace decided she wanted to be a doctor. She had more tests, scans and plenty of needles and laid still for each of them. She got through all of the tests by listening to songs on her playlist and smiling as best she could. Grace even comforted her queasy mother and support team.

Grace was diagnosed with Germinoma brain cancer, a germ cell brain tumor, on May 2, 2018. Her aggressive treatment began on May 9, 2018 and she just finished the radiation portion of treatment. As of today, there is no evidence of a tumor and Grace will undergo blood tests, MRIs and spinal taps for the next few months to monitor the success of the chemo.

graceandmomGrace loves to be crafty; she made a sign for the children to sign and date which says “Last Day of Chemo.” Throughout her treatment, she decided to paint pictures to brighten the nurses and the children’s days. When losing her hair became a reality, Grace decided to throw a party and shave her head. Grace’s brother and her best friend joined her in shaving their heads as well.

According to Grace’s mom, “The hardest thing in the process has been missing school. She is one of ‘those kids’ that is passionate about being in school. She video conferences in as much as she can and keeps up on all her projects, even the ones for her future’s gifted program. She rallied a huge team for a fundraiser walk for her hospital and came in second place overall for fundraising. She was the first place for largest team.”

Grace is determined to help people and is currently making a plan of how she will continue helping other kids with cancer. She enjoys tagrace1lking to people about this part of her journey and is focused on helping others. Grace plans on learning more about oncology. She is excited for the future and can’t wait for her hair to start growing back!

*Special thanks to Barbara Zobian and the Candlelighters NYC*


PedroMeet Pedro, a 5-year-old warrior turning 6 this December. Pedro is one of three children in the Curiel family and is suffering from T Cell Acute Lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). He is receiving delayed intensification treatments in California with his mom and siblings by his side.

“The past seven months have been the most aggressive chemo then he will go to maintenance where every other week he will receive chemo and eventually getting oral chemo which is not as intense,” his mom, Vilma notes. Vilma said that he’s had muscular stiffness from the new chemo which made him unable to walk and he did not want to get out of bed.  “I think this is the most scary part of treatment. After 24 hours he started limping and getting back to his usual routine.”

pedro 2When he’s not receiving treatment, he is found drawing treasure maps around the house. Vilma said that he loves to draw these maps and hide his “treasure” and have his two brothers go find it! He started homeschooling in August, and he can now read a full sentence. He is expected to return to school after flu season.  

Pedro is currently in remission and maintenance will continue for the next three years.  


Currently being treated for Stage 4 Neuroblastoma

Beckham_022Meet Beckham, one of our ambassadors for the month of September. He is a goofy 8 year old currently being treated for Stage 4 Neuroblastoma at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City.  Beckham was diagnosed on September 11, 2013 at the age of 3. A few weeks prior to his diagnosis, Beckham was playing with his sister and they banged their heads together. This resulted in Beckham’s black eyes.  His mom remembers looking at pictures from that time and seeing his eyes starting to darken.

“I called the doctor and they said to watch it and call if things worsened. They went down and then started to darken. I ended up taking him in to his pediatrician and they drew labs. Later that day I got a call that Beckham’s labs were abnormal and that we had an appointment with oncology up at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City,” his mom recalls.

Beckham_014At first, doctors didn’t think Beckham had cancer, they went through many diagnoses, everything from mono to anemia. The doctors were not convinced and decided to do a bone marrow biopsy which revealed that Beckham had tumors throughout his body and bone marrow.

beckhamTreatment was aggressive and as a result Beckham started chemotherapy. The doctors performed a resection of the main tumor and radiation to his skull in Utah which resulted in soft tissue tumors and bone marrow clearing well but the tumors in his bones had hardly changed. Beckham’s mom recalls going onto a Facebook group for Neuroblastoma and was urged to take him for a second opinion at Memorial Sloan Kettering. February 2014 was the first trip to NYC where Beckham received MIBG therapy, NK cell therapy, radiation, 3f8 antibioties, cryotherapy surgery, numerous rounds of chemotherapy and surgery to remove lymph nodes in his upper right underarm and chest.

Beckham_048Beckham has had two central lines and is on his third port. “He has endured four relapses, the most recent being March of 2018 and his doctors say he is a miracle boy.”

Fortunately, his latest scans show no evidence of disease. He is currently in treatment for an alk mutation which was found in his past two surgeries.  Beckham has a lot of personality and loves to make people laugh – we are looking forward to many laughs with Beckham!

Beckham is one strong little boy and an example of true perseverance. Beckham expresses to his mom that he is never giving up and his cancer is going down!


*Special thanks to our Candlelighters NYC Affiliate and Barbara Zobian*




Layla’s Story

Today, we would like to introduce you to Layla. Layla is a strong, courageous four-year-old who has been battling a rare, inoperable brain tumor for the past 15 months. Diagnosed at the age of two, Layla’s tumor has not responded to “traditional” chemotherapy-based treatments, and her family now faces the daunting prospect of attempting less well-known options, some well-researched and some still experimental, in the on-going search for an effective weapon against this devastating disease. In the meantime, they take every day as it comes, finding tools and resources to help Layla cope with the difficult days and sharing her smiles and giggles on the good ones. We hope you will join us in offering Layla and her family our support as they embark on this next stage of their cancer journey.

Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma

20160908_132323Layla has Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma, a rare brain tumor that grows in the supportive tissues of the brain known as astrocytes. In Layla’s case, the tumor is located on her brainstem, blocking the natural flow of cerebral spinal fluid. At the time of her initial MRI, the spinal fluid had begun to fill her brain causing headaches and mobility issues, and eventually leading to “life-threatening” pressure that required emergency surgery to drain the fluid and relieve the pressure.

Because of its location on the brain stem, oncologists could not surgically remove the tumor without risking Layla’s life. Another traditional tool in the fight against brain tumors—radiation—is not appropriate for children Layla’s age due to the extreme risk of severe brain damage. Still, the prognosis was hopeful: JPA is usually a benign, “low grade” tumor that Layla’s team felt would probably not grow. They placed a permanent shunt to enable the normal drainage of spinal fluid around the tumor, with the expectation that it would last for 10-15 years. Layla would receive an MRI every three months for the first year to monitor the tumor, with the frequency of MRIs decreasing over the years.

20161013_115549Unfortunately, the complications began almost immediately. First, Layla’s shunt over drained, causing massive bleeding. Two months later, the shunt failed to drain again, leading to more hydrocephalus. Another couple of months, another malfunction: Layla was back in the ICU for a failed shunt, hydrocephalus, and now bleeding as well. Each of these complications required emergency surgery to relieve the hydrocephalus, then additional surgeries to repair damaged tissue and replace the shunt.

20160908_134459Throughout this difficult period, routine scans of the tumor showed good news: as expected, the tumor was not growing. Yet once again, Layla’s family learned just how quickly bad news can follow good: just two weeks after a positive scan, another follow-up scan showed 25% growth in the size of the tumor. Layla immediately began chemotherapy through a clinical trial. Unfortunately, after three months of chemotherapy, it has now become clear that Layla’s tumor is not responding and she has been taken off the chemotherapy in order to avoid the potential for negative side effects.

Hero Beads and Port-a-Cat: “Life Changing” Resources for Layla and Her Family

img_9759As difficult and as devastating as this journey has been for Layla and her family, they have found much-needed help and support from friends and family, as well as tools and resources to help them cope. ACCO’s informational booklets have helped Layla’s parents navigate the incredibly difficult world of childhood cancer, while Layla loves Marvelous Marleigh, the only age-appropriate book Layla’s mother could find to help Layla understand what was happening to her. And perhaps most importantly, as her mother notes, “Cozy the Port-a-Cat was a life-changing therapy tool for her and her ACCO blanket is her most coveted comfort item.” Each time Layla visits the hospital, Cozy is treated like a patient, too, with his own regimen board just like Layla’s!

And Layla and her family have been able to document Layla’s journey with ACCO Hero Beads. Choosing a Hero Bead for every procedure gives Layla a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of ownership over her individual story; her Hero Beads provide a meaningful way to visually represent what she has gone through over the past 15 months. ACCO Hero Beads can be purchased individually or in bulk from our store; 100% of the proceeds continue to fund ACCO’s programs to help and support kids with cancer and their families! For more information about ACCO’s Hero Bead powerful program, we encourage you to visit our website at:

About American Childhood Cancer Organization

American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) is a non-profit charity dedicated to helping kids with cancer and their families navigate the difficult journey from cancer diagnosis through survivorship. Internationally, ACCO is the sole U.S. member of Childhood Cancer International (CCI), the largest patient-support organization for childhood cancer in the world. Here in the United States, ACCO promotes the critical importance of ensuring continued funding into new and better treatment protocols for childhood cancer.  And most importantly, ACCO is focused on the children: developing and providing educational tools for children fighting cancer and their families, empowering them in their understanding of childhood cancer and the medical decisions they must make during this difficult journey. All of ACCO’s resources are available free of charge for families coping with childhood cancer.

For additional information about childhood cancer or on ACCO, or to order resources for you or your child, please visit our website at


To submit a Gold Ribbon Hero’s story, please Click Here

For additional information about childhood cancer or on the ACCO, or to order resources for you or your child, please visit our website at , call 855.858.2226 or visit:

Want To Read American Childhood Cancer Organization On Your Phone? Click the NoteStream logo: NoteStream


Today marks the beginning of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, September 2016

Each September we hope to raise much needed awareness for childhood cancer and we can’t do that without your help. To start, please take a moment to share this page on your social media profile, in an email or however you would like with your community by copying and pasting this website address Then, learn about the many ways that you, your family and friends, and your community can help:
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month 2016

The Gold Ribbon: The international awareness symbol for Childhood Cancer is the gold ribbon. Wear or display a gold ribbon for everyone to see this month. Put a gold ribbon car magnet on your car, share gold ribbon stickers, wear a gold ribbon pins or make your own gold ribbon Add a gold ribbon to your social media images and add a gold ribbon emoticon to your posts and status updates. Provide gold ribbons for your child’s school, for your fellow employees at your place of work and/or for your church or other group. Click Here to learn more about the Gold Ribbon.

Go Gold®: Change you profile, cover and header images on your social media to gold or gold themed images. Ask everyone you know to show their support by changing their images to gold themed images. You can also wear gold, host a “Go Gold®” event or think of any creative way to share gold this September. Although many colors were considered, gold was agreed upon as the ideal choice for childhood cancer awareness because gold is a precious metal, and is therefore the perfect color to reflect the most precious thing in our lives—our children. Click Here to learn more about Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. (“GO GOLD®” and “GO GOLD for Kids with Cancer®” are registered trademarks of ACCO. ACCO registered the marks to protect the identity of the gold ribbon and GO GOLD expression and its derivations to the childhood cancer cause.)

Wearing Awareness Items: Wearing awareness items such as our awareness shirts, gold ribbons, “Go Gold®” bracelets, gold pins or other awareness items items. Our awareness shirts and items support ACCO’s programs and help us to provide free resources to families facing a childhood cancer diagnosis. Many of our shirts feature thousands of names that each represent a precious life and an entire community of people whose lives have been forever changed by childhood cancer. Click Here to see our 2016 Go Gold Awareness shirts (only available until September 12th) or Here for other awareness items.

Host an Event: ACCO offers many ways for individuals, corporations, schools and any other groups to host ACCO signature events to help support children and teens with cancer. We help organize your event, provide prizes and event materials, a website portal for groups, team and/or individuals to collect donations, and depending on the size of your event, provide marketing options. Click Here to learn how to get involved.

Supporting the STAR Act: What could be a better way to kick off September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month than adding your support to the most comprehensive childhood cancer bill ever in US legislative history: the STAR Act! We need your help reminding Chairman Upton that this bill is important and that it deserves a hearing! Click Here to learn more about how you can help.

There are so many wonderful and creative ways to help raise awareness about Childhood Cancer, and we are honored to help you however we can. If you would like to learn more or discuss your ideas about raising awareness this month, please feel free to Contact Us Here. We can’t wait to help you Go Gold® for kids with cancer this September! Please take a moment to view all of the many options on our website.

About the American Childhood Cancer Organization

The American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) is a non-profit charity dedicated to helping kids with cancer and their families navigate the difficult journey from cancer diagnosis through survivorship. Internationally, the ACCO is the sole US member of Childhood Cancer International (CCI), the largest patient-support organization for childhood cancer in the world. Here in the United States, the ACCO promotes the critical importance of ensuring continued funding into new and better treatment protocols for childhood cancer.  And most importantly, the ACCO is focused on the children: developing and providing educational tools for children fighting cancer and their families, empowering them in their understanding of childhood cancer and the medical decisions they must make during this difficult journey. All of ACCO’s resources are available free of charge for families coping with childhood cancer.

For additional information about childhood cancer or on the ACCO, or to order resources for you or your child, please visit our website at