Parmina, Age 11
UC Davis Children's Hospital
Parmina's grandmother, Pauline, is actually grateful for the H1N1 flu virus. Without it, she would not have taken her granddaughter to the hospital, where a chest X-ray revealed something shocking — Parmina had cancer.
She was diagnosed with a mediastinal embryonal germ cell tumor attached to her thymus, a small organ that sits just above the heart and is part of the body's immune system. Rarely found in children, this type of cancer occurs most often in older men.
Doctors began chemotherapy immediately, followed by surgery to remove the tumor. The treatments were successful, but Parmina's challenges didn't end there. Side effects of her lifesaving treatment include some permanent hearing loss, lung damage, cognitive difficulties and potential kidney problems.
Despite life's challenges, Parmina is an irrepressible optimist. Now 11, she takes good care of her two younger sisters with special needs, and she loves to perform magic, especially for kids in the hospital.