Oklahoma girl with Down Syndrome diagnosed with leukemia

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OKLAHOMA CITY - It's easy to spot 17-year-old Danielle Robinson among the swirl of color, sound, and light during a local Oklahoma City "Kids Alive" production of the Lion King.

She's the one in the wheelchair; her face and body feeling the emotion of each song in the dress rehearsal. This Edmond teen with Down Syndrome enjoys her spot in the center of a tight-knit, loving family as well as her acting and church communities.

Last year, however, an illness threatened to unravel her joy.

"One day, Danielle's teacher called and said, 'We can't even get her to stand up. She's sitting on the floor, she won't stand up. We're not sure what's wrong,'" Jennifer Robinson, Danielle's mom, said.

Jennifer Robinson says she suspected mononucleosis at first, which was going around Danielle's school. Blood tests revealed something much worse: leukemia.

"Children with Down Syndrome are at an increased risk of developing leukemia," Dr. Osman Khan explained.

Dr Khan is a pediatric oncologist at Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer. He remembers Danielle's darkest days. Septic shock put her in intensive care for months, and the complications kept adding up.

"Some days, it was easy to forget that cancer was the thing we were fighting," Robinson said.

Today in her clinic visit, Danielle tries to stand from her wheelchair, but is unsteady of her feet. It's a side effect of her chemotherapy treatments.

Recovery after months of medical procedures is a day at a time.

"Danielle has faced a significant number of challenges. She is incredibly resilient, she's an amazing compassionate personality," Dr. Khan says.

Danielle's mother says her daughter tries to see the good in everything, and the warmth her daughter gives, she has also received from the staff at Jimmy Everest Cancer Center.

They encourage her at each visit, and cheer for accomplishments on the stage.

This past year, Danielle won a pageant for special needs students. The video of her waiting for the announcement is priceless. She is overcome with emotion, cheering and waving and crying. Her mother laughs, "She's sassy and she's a diva!"

And Danielle has a lot of living yet to do.

If you’d like to help children like Danielle fight cancer, consider donating to JECFriends.org.

'Kids with Courage' is sponsored by the Jimmy Everest Center. 

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