SPOKANE, Wash. - By the age of two, most kids are beginning to use their new found motor skills to explore creatively- especially singing and dancing.
“This little girl loves music. Anything and everything that has to do with making music,” said Jessica Hudson. “She dances to everything she plays with everything, she has a blast with everything- she loves it,” she said.
Hudson's daughter, Elisa, has plenty to dance about. She has overcome more in 22 months than many will in a lifetime.
“She's young enough to where she's hopefully not going to remember a whole lot,” Hudson said.
Elisa was a surprise to Hudson and her husband, but her Down's Syndrome wasn't.
“I didn't care about the Downs Syndrome. I've grown up around it. I've got several family members who have Downs,” Hudson said.
Down's wasn't what scared Jessica. The tests that revealed her daughter's syndrome, also revealed something else.
She had a what looked like a hole in her heart,” Hudson said.
The life she had imagined for her baby, threatened before it could begin.
“I can't lose her. I can't lose her,” Hudson said.
The Hudsons are from the Tri-Cities, but Elisa was born here, at Sacred Heart Children's Hospital, so doctors could make sure her heart was okay.
At three months old, Elisa had heart surgery to fix the hole. The next 16 months were smooth sailing fr this tiny dancer.
“We'd come to appointments every now and again, but we just, we were living at home, we were doing great, everything was wonderful,” Hudson said.
But at 18 months, their world fell out from under them- again.
“When they're telling you all this stuff, you're hearing it but you're not hearing it,” Hudson said.
Cancer. A word no parent wants to hear, even as a hypothetical.
“If it's not leukemia it's something else, either way we need to get our butts up there,” Hudson said, referring to a phone call from a doctor in the Tri-Cities, telling her a blood abnormality suggested her daughter might have cancer.
She did. Specifically, acute myeloid leukemia.
“You don't think your child's going to be, sick, you know, have something that could possibly end her life. We've already gone through something like that. It can't happen again... you know? It's just... it's too much” Hudson said.
Elisa's Downs Syndrome made her more likely to have AML. But it also made her more likely to beat it.
“Because of her Downs Syndrome and stuff that she had, the doctors said that was a less aggressive one for her,” Hudson said.
For the last few months, intensive chemotherapy has kept Jessica and Elisa in Spokane, separated from their family.
“I've seen my daughter have to have poison put in her to get the poison out. It's been a very long journey,” Hudson said.
A hospital will never be home, but the staff at Sacred Heart come pretty close.
“They listen to you, they hear what you're saying, they know what you're going through,” Hudson said.
They guided Elisa through her first, successful round of treatment, so her mom can focus on the future.
“I'm just hoping she's going to be an ecstatic happy little girl that doesn't let anything hold her back,” Hudson said.
Having conquered heart surgery and leukemia before she turns two, there seems to be little that could.
“She's getting her beautiful smile back and she's becoming very happy again and she's just the light of our life right now,” Hudson said.