When Brittany was four years old, her mother noticed a rash all over her body and took her to the pediatrician. She was told that Brittany was fine and sent her home. A week later, she stopped eating. By the fourth day, she was admitted to Texas Children’s Hospital and the doctor had noticed a lump that had formed on the side of her neck. The doctor performed a round of tests and she was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a very rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Within 12 hours, Brittany deteriorated quickly. Her organs had started failing and she was taken to the ICU. She was on dialysis for nine days and her stomach had distended with 13 tumors.
Once her organs improved, she started strong chemotherapy. She said, “it was 75% of adult-strength chemo, and it was so strong that I developed third degree-burns on the lower half of my body.” After eight months, she was sent home and started oral chemotherapy. Brittany said, “I don’t have a lot of memories of that time. I remember being scared at the beginning. I know the rest of the time I was just a normal kid at the hospital. I played with Barbies and baby dolls and even had a phase where I only played with puzzles. My mom stayed with me through it all at the hospital. Even when I lost my hair, she made sure that my Barbies were bald too.”
The one thing that had a lasting impact on Brittany was Camp Esperanza. She first attended when she was six and every year after until she was 16. Every year in July, the camp welcomes 140 kids with cancer and gives them an opportunity to play and explore. Brittany said, “it was my saving grace every year. I could just be a kid and not worry about anything else.” The kids have full access to medical staff and can continue their treatments uninterrupted with the same oncologists on site from the hospital.
She was cancer-free when she was 12. Brittany is now 31 years old and has a family of her own. In fact, she volunteers every year at Camp Esperanza as a counselor. She wants to help other children with cancer by sharing her experiences. She also has two children. She said, “I was told I wasn’t going to be able to have children, and I’m so thankful. Now that I’m a mom, I have a new appreciation for my parents and what they went through when I was sick. And after all this time, this experience has stuck with me and helped shape me into who I am. But I also know it is just something I’ve been through, and I don’t let it define me.”
Brittany’s husband, Junior Albizures, is an Inside Sales representative for Onco360. He said, “I immediately wanted to work at Onco360 because of Brittany’s story. My passion for patients matches the culture of passion at Onco360. It’s what motivates me every day.”