Twelve-year-old makes the most of leukemia diagnosis

> When I first met Kenda Al-Assi, the 12-year-old couldn’t be missed. She had on a hot pink wig, a pink shirt and socks, and a sparkly silver purse. She was going in for chemo treatment, and I thought that was her festive outfit for the occasion. I soon found out that a bright-colored wig is just another accessory in Kenda’s everyday wardrobe.

“I have 11 different colors of hair,” Kenda said. “I always match them to whatever mood I’m in or what outfit I’m wearing.”

Kenda’s mom, Reem Ghalib, said that when Kenda’s doctor at Children’s told her she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia one year ago, Kenda’s first question was “Am I going to die?” followed quickly by “Am I going to lose my hair?” The first question had a positive response because Kenda is in the best hands at Children’s where her disease has an 85-90 percent cure rate. When the answer to the second question was “yes,” Reem called for help. Within hours, their friend and professional wigmaker appeared in Kenda’s room at the hospital.

“It’s funny because everyone knows Kenda by her hair,” Ghalib said. “We’ll be walking down the street and people will yell ‘You go girl!’”

So it was fitting for Kenda to wear her dark blue wig last Saturday – she was seeing Alice in Wonderland and wanted to match the main character.

Watch Saturday’s event from Kenda’s perspective:

Read more about the Alice in Wonderland event Kenda planned for 15 Children’s patients and view a photo gallery of the group getting their own red carpet experience.

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