More

With cancer at age 3, Alexis wanted to share her story with the world — as a cartoon.

Alexis' wish was to make a cartoon to inspire other kids with leukemia to be brave.

With cancer at age 3, Alexis wanted to share her story with the world — as a cartoon.

Soon after her third birthday, Alexis was diagnosed with leukemia.

It began when she was sent home from daycare with a fever. Angela, her mother, noticed Alexis seemed tired and pale. Once doctors noticed tiny red spots on Alexis' skin, they ran a few tests and discovered Alexis had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.


All illustrations and photos from Alexis' Wish/Make-A-Wish AKWA/YouTube.

Her family was contacted by Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington. Her wish? To make a cartoon about her cancer.

It's been nearly three years after Alexis's treatment began. She's now finished with chemotherapy, pills, and constant trips to the doctor — her leukemia is at bay, and her life is returning to normal. So when Alexis and her family were contacted about a wish, she told them she wanted to make a cartoon to inspire others with pediatric cancer to be brave even when they're scared.

And so Make-A-Wish, teaming up with a Seattle creative agency, set off to make her dream come true.

Alexis met up with the folks at the agency World Famous to discuss her story. While there, she helped design what her character would look like and what type of story she wanted to tell.

They decided to tell the story of Princess Alexis and how she escaped Kemia the dragon.

Kemia was lurking in the Marrow Woods as Princess Alexis played nearby. The dragon swooped in and locked her away in a castle. To escape the castle, Princess Alexis must find a magic wand hidden within its basement. Though the wand will take Princess Alexis' beautiful hair and her strength, it's what she must use to defeat Kemia and escape the castle.

In other words, it's adorable, and it made me tear up the first time I watched it.

Once the animation was finished, Alexis was off to the recording studio to give her character a voice.

With a script, a microphone, and some time, Alexis and her mother both read lines to be included in the final product.

An estimated 2,670 children age 14 and younger will be diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia this year.

It's the most common form of childhood leukemia. Luckily, it's pretty treatable, with a five-year survival rate of more than 85%.

And now here's where you (yes, you) come in to help Alexis' wish: Watch her cartoon and share it with the world.

"Help us make Alexis's wish gain worldwide attention to raise awareness of pediatric cancer by forwarding the link to her video via social media," Make-A-Wish's website says. Below, you'll find the video. It's adorable and well-worth watching and sharing.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less