Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Young cancer survivor rings bell signifying treatment end

Sailor Parker writing her name on a wall sticker Seven-year-old Sailor Parker writes her name on a wall sticker after she rang the bell in the Brooke Army Medical Center Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic April 1, 2021, signifying she won her battle against Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (Photo by: Lori Newman, Brooke Army Medical Center).

Recommended Content:

Children's Health

After a two-and-a-half-year battle with a rare childhood disease, one little girl has a big reason to celebrate.

Surrounded by her parents and a small group of medical staff, including Brooke Army Medical Center Commanding General Brig. Gen. Shan Bagby and Command Sgt. Maj. Thurman Reynolds, 7-year-old Sailor Parker recently rang the bell in the BAMC Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic signifying she won her battle against Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.

"Sailor we are so proud of you and how well you have done with your treatment," said Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Della Howell, pediatric hematologist/oncologist assigned to the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston facility. "We couldn't have asked for a better patient."

According to the National Cancer Institute, childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia, also called ALL or acute lymphocytic leukemia, is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

"This is the most common type of cancer in children and adolescents, but only happens at a rate of 34 per million in those who are under 20 years of age," explained Howell.

"In the past, before the advent of chemotherapy, this disease was almost always lethal. In the 1960s, the survival rate was less than 10 percent. Now the overall survival rate of the disease is about 90 percent."

Sailor's father, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Aaron Parker, was stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, when she became critically ill and was transported via life flight to Dell Children's Hospital in Austin, Texas.

"In less than an hour everything changed," Parker said. "Our entire world changed in so many ways."

Sailor's grandmother, Kim McSparren contacted an old childhood friend, Delores Hagen, who happens to be a critical care nurse in the Pediatric Sedation Unit at BAMC. Coincidentally, Hagen also had leukemia as a child.

"Forty years ago, Sailor's grandmother lived across the street from me. She was my best friend," Hagen said. "She asked me if I would please go talk to Sailor's parents."

After completing a couple months of treatments, Sailor was transferred to BAMC and her dad received a compassionate reassignment to nearby Randolph Air Force. Hagen was there to provide support every step of the way.

"Nurse Delores Hagen has been pretty incredible this entire time helping out above Sailor's treatment consisted of intravenous chemotherapy, oral chemotherapy and intrathecal chemotherapy, injected directly into the spinal fluid through lumbar punctures.

"By the time we received her as a patient, she was overall, doing quite well and was already in remission," Howell said. "The chemotherapy treatment course lasts about two and a half years for girls."

Sailor's parents were overjoyed that their daughter was finished with her treatment.

"There has been a lot of frustrating moments, a lot of painful moments, but now that it's all wrapped up and coming to an end, it's like a pinch yourself moment," Parker said.

COVID-19 made things even more difficult because Sailor's immune system was compromised.

"The COVID slump that everyone has been in; we were one level deeper," Parker said.

"Now we are actually getting to feel what normal COVID life is with everybody else," he laughed. "We don't know what to do because all these doors and possibilities have opened back up."

Megan Parker, Sailor's mother, agrees. "It's been a journey. It's kind of surreal that it's basically come to an end."

Sailor said she is looking forward to being able to go to grandma's house now that her treatment is finished. There may even be a trip to the beach and Jiu-Jitsu classes in her future.

"Sailor has done extremely well with her treatments and we hope that she is cured of her disease, but she will be watched very closely to make sure that there are no signs of the leukemia returning," Howell said.

You also may be interested in...

Children’s well-being contributes immeasurably to force readiness

Article
4/6/2021
Military personnel wearing face mask in the back of a truck

The Defense Health Agency joins in celebrating military children during Month of the Military Child, observed in April, and always.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | April Toolkit | Month of the Military Child – Celebrating the Mighty | Coronavirus | Month of the Military Child | Month of the Military Child Image Library

Month of the Military Child 2021

Video
4/5/2021
DHA Seal

The Defense Health Agency supports military children from around the world during Month of the Military Child 2021.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child – Celebrating the Mighty | Month of the Military Child | Children's Health

Defense Health Agency celebrating the mighty military child in April

Article
4/2/2021
This April, the DHA will celebrate the mighty military child

On April 1, the DHA launched the “Celebrating the Mighty” global campaign.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child – Celebrating the Mighty | Month of the Military Child | Children's Health | Month of the Military Child Image Library

Good oral care requires lifetime commitment

Article
2/25/2021
Military health personnel, sitting in front of a group of children, showing them how to brush their teeth using a stuffed animal

Children’s Dental Health Month focuses on the importance of developing good oral hygiene habits at an early age.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Total Force Fitness

Keeping kids’ teeth healthy during a pandemic: brush, floss, no sugar

Article
2/18/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask examines the mouth of a child

Pediatric dentistry requires tooth brushing, flossing and sugar avoidance. During a pandemic, getting to a checkup has been hard.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

Special care given to families experiencing stillbirth or infant loss

Article
10/23/2020
A couple standing in front of a wall covered in notes

The cot is specially designed to give parents extra time with their baby.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Children's Health | Men's Health

Weed ACH holds Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month event

Article
10/22/2020
Group of people standing outside hospital

[I]t's important to acknowledge pregnancy and infant loss awareness events because it isn’t healthy for families to suffer in silence.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Women's Health

Sesame Street supports military families with health care transitions

Article
9/15/2020
Sesame Street character comforts a military child during a doctor visit.

This article introduces the new Sesame Street for Military Families: Transitions in Health Care section and how it can support military families as they transition to new health care providers.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health

Back-to-school vaccinations in the age of coronavirus

Article
8/12/2020
Medical technician wearing a mask, filling an immunization needle

DHA experts answer questions about back-to-school vaccines

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Public Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Immunizations

Talking with Children about TBI

Publication
8/3/2020

This guide offers communication techniques to parents or guardians who are struggling to help their children understand the changes in a loved one who sustained a TBI. It features specific communication techniques based on the age and stage of development of the child.

Recommended Content:

Traumatic Brain Injury | TBI Resources | Children's Health | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence | TBI Educators | Patient and Family Resources | Provider Resources | A Head for the Future

Dating violence has consequences for teen victims

Article
2/28/2020
Midori Robinson, Kyleigh Rose and Keisha McNeill paint their hands so they can put a handprint on the “Love is Respect” mural during the Camp Zama Youth Center Teen Dating Violence Awareness Lock-In at Camp Zama. (U.S. Army photo by Winifred Brown)

Resources available to help military families respond

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Total Force Fitness

Award-winning Navy team successfully improves care for women, infants

Article
11/26/2019
Labor and Delivery providers were the front-line adopters of the Induction of Labor care pathway at Naval Medical Center San Diego. As of July 2019, over 80 percent of the hospital’s providers were using the pathway. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Joseph A. Boomhower)

An award-winning team of nurses successfully implemented a treatment guide at Naval Medical Center San Diego that improves labor and delivery outcomes

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | Children's Health | Women's Health | Nurses Week

Measles Myths: The Measles Can Be Life-Threatening

Video
9/30/2019
Measles Myths: The Measles Can Be Life-Threatening

Measles can be life-threatening, especially for children and among people who have a compromised immune system.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

Measles Myths: Hand Washing Alone Won't Prevent Measles

Video
9/23/2019
Measles Myths: Hand Washing Alone Won't Prevent Measles

Hand washing alone will not prevent the spread of measles. Dr. Margaret Ryan, preventive medicine physician, debunks some myths about vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Children's Health | Immunizations | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases | Measles-Mumps-Rubella

A surprise delivery at Fort Bragg’s maternity fair

Article
9/19/2019
Pamela Riis (in pink the pink top) learns more about the use of nitrous oxide during labor at the semiannual Fort Bragg Maternity Fair. More than 300 pregnant women, soon-to-be dads, parents of infants, and those planning to have a baby soon participated in the event. (U.S. Army photo by Patricia Beal)

For Linda Steadman, a certified nursing assistant, this will be a day to remember

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Women's Health | Military Hospitals and Clinics
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.