Young cancer survivor rings bell at BAMC to celebrate final treatment

Sailor Parker, 7, has declared her victory against acute lymphocytic leukemia

Sailor Parker, 7, recently rang the bell at the Brooke Army Medical Center’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic, signifying her victory against acute lymphocytic leukemia, according to BAMC officials.
Sailor Parker, 7, recently rang the bell at the Brooke Army Medical Center’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic, signifying her victory against acute lymphocytic leukemia, according to BAMC officials. (BAMC/KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – One little girl has a big reason to celebrate after winning her two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer.

Sailor Parker, 7, recently rang the bell at the Brooke Army Medical Center’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic, signifying her victory against acute lymphocytic leukemia, according to BAMC officials.

She was surrounded by her parents and a small group of medical staff during the celebration.

“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, in a statement. “We couldn’t have asked for a better patient.”

Acute lymphocytic leukemia is defined as “a cancer of the blood and bone marrow,” according to health officials. This form of cancer is common among children and adolescents, BAMC officials said.

“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 a release. “In the past, before the advent of chemotherapy, this disease was almost always lethal. In the 1960s, the survival rate was less than 10%. Now the overall survival rate of the disease is about 90%.”

Sailor’s father, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Aaron Parker, was stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo when the child first became critically ill, according to BAMC officials.

Sailor was taken via life flight to Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin for treatment.

“In less than an hour, everything changed,” Parker said in the news release. “Our entire world changed in so many ways.”

Sailor completed months of treatments before she was transferred to BAMC. Her treatment consisted of “intravenous chemotherapy, oral chemotherapy and intrathecal chemotherapy, injected directly into the spinal fluid through lumbar punctures,” according to BAMC staff.

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

Sailor’s parents said they’re overjoyed that their daughter has won her cancer battle.

“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.

“It’s been a journey. It’s kind of surreal that it’s basically come to an end,” said Megan Parker, Sailor’s mother.

Now that her treatments are over, Sailor said she is looking forward to visiting her grandma and maybe even visiting the beach or taking Jiu-Jitsu classes.

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About the Author:

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.