They say it takes a village to raise a child. Shari Ann Almeida knows this to be true.
Almeida’s daughter, Dakota Ann, was a rough-and-tumble infant who first stood on her own at 3 months old. So, when she developed a few small, faint green bruises on the right side of her body, first-time mom Almeida thought nothing of it. At 6 months old, Dakota was teething, so a low-grade fever didn’t seem out of the ordinary.
In reality, these were signs of a life-changing diagnosis. Blood work ordered at a routine well-visit confirmed that something was wrong. Almeida was faced with making the first of many tough decisions in Dakota’s fight with pediatric cancer.
Philadelphia or Lehigh Valley? They could travel for care or stay close to home.
“We went right to Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital,” says Almeida. “After her diagnosis, my employer at the time wanted to send her in a helicopter to Philadelphia and I told them, ‘There’s no way I’m leaving her side.’”