On St. Patrick's Day in 2010, Lauren O'Hara was diagnosed unexpectedly with ALL/ T-Cell Leukemia, a rare type of leukemia. A 17 year old high school senior with internships at Mote Marine & her elementary school science class, a job at Chick-fil-A, track & cross country runner and a steady boyfriend. Life was good. College bound, Lauren had been accepted to all the colleges she applied to and decided on the University of South Florida to study Marine Biology.
A new and occasional "cough" that sounded deep was the only pre-curser to the madness to come. After starting chemo, Lauren spent more than 2 months in ICU, and lost 20+ lbs before coming home at the close of May to join her high school peers and graduate with honors to a standing ovation. All the chemo & horrible side-effects, testing, procedures, nausea couldn't keep her down. During the summer, Lauren regained her strength & weight, drove herself to the beach, and joined friends at dinners and movies while receiving chemo treatment. A bone marrow transplant was discussed very early-on because of the aggressive cancer.
September 1st, when Lauren would have started college, her family brought her back to All Children's Hospital for the bone marrow transplant. They were apprehensive and anxious. Lauren, the trooper, got through the grueling intensive chemo and all the side-effects with regular yoga, stationary bike rides and steady visits from friends and family. It seemed like they were on our way to resuming college plans and Lauren's Make-A-Wish adventure: to cage dive with sharks. She was 99% donor. Several weeks later, they were devastated with news that the transplant didn't take and the leukemia began to rise. More chemo was given, but it proved to be too much for Lauren's already weakened system.
Lauren - courageous, strong, inspirational, amazing fighter, battled long and hard - wanted to win this race. It was not to be. Nine months after it all began, the family brought their daughter home on December 26, the day after Christmas. Lauren was able to spend a day and a half at home where she wanted to be, with family. They lost their angel on December 28th.
Lauren always wanted to help others. Among her wishes before she passed away was to help bring awareness to childhood cancer/leukemia and help kids like her deal with unexpected cancer and all the hardships that go with it including long in-hospital stays.
Lauren O Hara Memorial Fund
Supporting Pediatric Leukemia research, patient support, and family support.