THOMAS, Okla. (KFOR) – Lyla Bridgeman is a four-year-old who is always on the move. This middle child from Thomas, Oklahoma loves her siblings, and they love to play a game called “ground is hot lava.”
“They’re healthy, they’re jumping around like crazy, normal girls,” says Lyla’s mom, Lauren.
That is a relief because just last May, the Bridgemans’ world felt like hot lava in real life. It started when Lyla couldn’t shake a fever.
“Something was weird with her blood work, and we didn’t know what that meant, so they sent us by ambulance to O-U Children’s Hospital,” recalls Clint and Lauren Bridgeman.
Days of testing confirmed a diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia or ALL. It launched a two-and-a-half-year treatment plan.
“I was glad that Lyla was asleep so she couldn’t see us break down and cry,” said Lauren. “He doesn’t normally cry – I cry all the time. “
During those first few months, the “hot lava” game continued with chemotherapy, transfusions, and steroids which puffed up little Lyla’s cheeks. They tried an unexpected remedy when her sodium levels plummeted.
“They made her drink straight pickle juice for medicine, and she wasn’t happy about that one,” said Clint.
The entire family got haircuts, anticipating Lyla’s hair loss. Surprisingly, it took months for her locks to finally fall out.
Lyla’s mom reflects “I don’t know how you’d do this without nurses that care.”
In fact, the nurses at Jimmy Everest Cancer Center made a big difference for the Bridgemans. They credit her medical team for everything from managing Lyla’s anxiety over needles to keeping boredom at bay with games and jokes.
“We have made tunnels and puzzles and coloring books, and they make it where it’s not drudgery staying there which is a relief because you get cabin fever staying there for a few days.”
“They’re nice” Lyla added.
The Bridgemans have been able to look beyond their family’s health battle, hoping it can help encourage others.
“Maybe through Layla’s journey maybe God could use our story and inspire someone else to hug their kids a little harder,” says Clint.
Lyla is now through the most intensive part of her treatment. The Bridgemans can spend more time at home in Thomas and take fewer trips to the clinic. This on-the-go family is grateful to stop, breathe, and play some more.
Lyla’s mom smiles and says, “Right now she’s feeling pretty awesome about herself.”
If you’d like to help kids like Lyla fight cancer, consider donating to jecfriends.org.