Sophia Flint

Four-year-old Sophia Flint sits in a hospital bed Jan. 10 at McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia .

Courtesy photo

Imagine a mother taking her 3-year-old daughter to the emergency room for what she thinks are flu-like symptoms and instead learning she has cancer.

This horrific scenario is exactly what happened to one young mother.

On Jan. 8, Marilane Flint, 25, thought she was doing the right thing by rushing her youngest daughter Sophia, who turned 4 on Thursday, to Seton Medical Center Harker Heights’ emergency room when her temperature soared to 103.

“The doctor thought she looked pale, but I told him her father is white and that is just her color,” said Flint, who is Hispanic.

Flint didn’t start to panic until the doctor said he wanted to admit Sophia for further testing. She called her husband, Jesse Flint, 30, a truck driver for ABC Supply of Nolanville, to tell him their daughter’s condition was serious. Little Sophia was escorted by ambulance to McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple.

Marilane Flint said she started feeling guilty that she had not brought Sophia to the hospital sooner. She was in shock that she had brought her baby in for flu symptoms and now her daughter was about to spend days in the hospital and receive numerous blood transfusions and a bone marrow test.

While the mother stayed with her daughter night after night in the hospital, Jesse Flint went home to be with their other two children, Angelica, 11, and Jesse Jr., 9.

Marilane Flint said Jesse Jr. took the news the hardest.

“It was very hard,” she said about watching Sophia’s bone marrow test. “We cried; she is just too little to go through that.”

The doctor came back that night to deliver the test results himself. With more than a dozen friends and family members sitting in the waiting room, the doctor asked to speak to Sophia’s mom and dad in private.

“At that moment I knew it was not good,” Marilane Flint said.

What the doctor told the Flints would forever change their lives and begin what he called a “new journey” for Sophia. Alone in a conference room at the hospital on Jan. 10, the doctor said Sophia had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and marrow. Doctors estimated Sophia had the cancer in her body for three weeks and assumed that a viral infection or urinary infection caused its onset.

If anything good could have come from such shocking news, Marilane Flint said Sophia’s diagnosis and treatment has brought their already close family even closer together.

Marilane Flint’s mother, Josephine Bocanegra, came up with the idea to host a fundraiser to offset some of the family’s expenses associated with Sophia’s illness. The Flints are not wealthy, and though the family is covered by Jesse’s health insurance through his employer, they still face expensive co-pays and medical bills.

Marilane Flint said the co-pay for the first spinal bone marrow test was $400 and the cost for Sophia’s week-long intensive care unit stay is around $65,000.

Bocanegra told her daughter not to worry, that there are good people in the Killeen and Harker Heights communities who are willing and wanting to help.

“No one ever imagines it will happen to them, but our family will get through it,” she said.

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