Emily was combing her baby daughter’s hair when she first felt the lumps. It was a week before Christmas, and her youngest daughter, Isadora, had been feverish and listless, unwilling to play or take a bottle. The lumps were clustered on the back of Isadora’s neck, the size of small beans. Something was very wrong.
At an urgent care clinic, the doctor found more lumps under Isadora’s arms and in her groin. The doctor urged Emily to take her daughter to a hospital as soon as she and her husband returned home from visiting family.
Back home in Porto Alegre in southern Brazil, Emily watched as doctors hurried her daughter through medical tests. The lumps had grown. That night in 2017, Isadora was lying on a stretcher beside Emily when a doctor told her the news. Isadora had an aggressive form of leukemia, a cancer that affects white blood cells and that is the most common kind of childhood cancer.
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