Baltimore, Md. - It's tough to believe 15-year-old Xavia Pirozzi was the picture of health just two months ago. She went with friends to the homecoming dance at John Carroll High School , feeling well and with a relatively new heart.
Five years ago, she had a heart transplant but later developed side effects from the medication that followed surgery.
"They did a scan, and come to find out the lymphoma had returned and it was all through her body," said Nicolle Borys-Pirozzi, Xavia’s mom.
Doctors told her there was a high success rate for a cure after the initial rounds of chemotherapy. However, it returned and now she's on the adult strength chemo.
It's been a tough road. The University of Maryland Children's Hospital is like home for her parents.
"She's had mouth sores all up and down her esophagus. She couldn't eat, couldn't drink for weeks on end," said Borys-Pirozzi.
If the cancer goes into remission, the next step is a bone marrow transplant. Time is ticking to find a donor.
Kelli Szczbor started The Ryan Foundation in honor of her 15-month-old son who passed away from leukemia and is now organizing a bone marrow drive.
"When Ryan was sick, I don't know why that little girl, the 22 year old, got on that registry, but it gave us a chance. And yes, Ryan passed away, but it gave us some more months with him," said Szczbor.
Keith Phoebus says the testing was simple and donating to his father was relatively easy, considering he helped save his life.
"They basically go into your hip bone and inside that needle is several little pricks that they put into your hip bone and they extract the bone marrow out of it," he said.
Doctors are optimistic the cancer can be cured as long as Pirozzi moves directly from chemo to a bone marrow transplant. The family is down to a month to find a match and to give this young girl some hopeful news.
"The fact that she won't be home for Christmas, most likely, is also very much in her mind. So she's in a sad place," said Borys-Pirozzi.
Having your bone marrow tested is as simple as a cheek swab and some paperwork. You can have your bone marrow tested this Wednesday, December 21, from 3:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. at St. Joseph Fullerton Parish Center located at 8416 Belair Road, 21206.
Even if you're not a match for Pirozzi you may help someone else who is searching for a donor.
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