Ailani Banuelos is a 12-year-old with a dream. She not only wants to see the ocean but paddle in it. Living in Chicago made the dream fairly difficult. There simply are no oceans around. In light of Ailani’s ongoing struggle with osteosarcoma, her parents decided to make her dream a reality. The family recently visited Deerfield Beach, Florida so that Ailani could live her dream. Keep reading to learn more, or follow the original story here for more information.
What is Osteosarcoma?
Osteosarcoma is a form of cancer which affects the bones of the body. Typically osteosarcoma manifests in regions where the bones grow most rapidly. This includes the areas of the femur surrounding the knee, the upper arm bone, and the shin. The most common times for osteosarcoma to occur are during teenage growth spurts.
Commons symptoms of osteosarcoma include bone pain, bone fractures, and limping or limited movement of the joints. Surgery and chemotherapy are the most effective forms of treatment that currently exist for osteosarcoma.
A Girl with a Dream
Ailani received her diagnosis of osteosarcoma in January of 2016. Doctors found a malignant tumor affecting Ailani’s left leg. The tumor had rendered Ailani practically immobile. This was the first major sign of her cancer.
Ailani’s dream has always been to see the ocean. She has especially wanted to go paddle boarding out in the water. Ailani remarks that anything about the ocean amazes her. She describes it as “awesome.” Living Chicago, she’d never seen an ocean in person.
Ailani began receiving treatment with chemotherapy. By April of 2017, she was able to walk and support her own weight. One short month later, however, the cancer returned. This time it affected her other leg. Five further rounds of chemotherapy ensued. During this time the cancer spread to her lungs.
Living the Dream
Ailani’s parents took her to Florida to get her closer to the ocean. They weren’t, however, the only people to support Ailani’s goal. Members of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Deerfield Beach, and several local businesses all backed Ailani. They were even able to capture the moment with a short video.
Using a specialized wheelchair, Ailani was able to get down to the beach, and eventually onto a paddle board. She finally reached the ocean. She describes the entire experience enthusiastically. She was able to paddle through the water, collect shells, and get a closeup view of the ocean floor under water.
Members of the Ocean Rescue and Sheriff’s office involved said it was all worthwhile just to see her smile. It gave Ailani and her family a chance to laugh and experience childhood joy and wonder.
As for Ailani, she describes the experience this way: “It was awesome. It was so cool.” Her mother says it is unlikely anyone will ever understand just how special and memorable a moment it was.