One little girl got a superhero send-off after finishing her last chemotherapy treatment at John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Wednesday.
Emilie Meza, 1, donned a Supergirl costume and held her father's hand as she walked down the hospital’s hallway to cheers and congratulations from staff.
She then rang a celebratory bell to mark the end of her treatments.
“Oh, it was an amazing feeling,” Emilie’s mother, Roxana Meza, told ABC News. “There were tears in my eyes -- tears of joy. She’s gone through so much and she doesn’t know it because she’s so little. It was tough at a lot of points, but to feel accomplished that you’re getting past the chemo part of it is amazing.”
Emilie was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia when she was 9 months old. She needed to undergo a bone marrow transplant but was unable to find a donor who would be a perfect match. So her father, Eduardo Meza, who was a half match, became her donor. That process was trickier and required extra safeguards, according to Dr. Benjamin Oshrine, Emilie’s attending transplant physician.
“With a half match, we have to take special precautions,” Oshrine told ABC News. “The first part of the transplant process she’s already completed, which is wiping her bone marrow clean with high-dose chemo and replacing it with donor’s bone marrow and immune system."
“It’s definitely been a journey already. There’s still a lot to do,” he added.
Although Emilie has completed chemotherapy, she and her parents must live in the nearby Ronald McDonald house so that her doctors can continue to closely monitor her.
But Emilie continues to amaze her parents.
“She is a supergirl,” Roxana Meza said. “She’s been through so much. She always smiles through all of the tough things and even on her bad days, she always pushes through.”
Oshrine said Emilie looked "vibrant and lively and her usual adorable self" while ringing the bell on Wednesday.
“To say the least, it’s heartwarming and adorable,” Oshrine said of Emilie's special send-off.