The Children's Cancer Association (CCA) announced recently that Aubryana Ramirez of Woodburn was one of 12 Portland-area recipients of the Hero Award.
CCA's Hero Award winners gathered at OMSI on Tuesday, May 28, for a medal ceremony and dove release, part of an event dubbed Celebration of Courage.
"Aubryana was very excited and also very nervous," said Aubry's mother, Amy Blem-Ramirez. "She was also very thankful for being alive and cancer free for now. Especially since one of the other heros was a cute little boy who passed away before he was able to be recognized as a hero. Our hearts went out to his family."
Aubry, 10, complained of lower back pain in May of 2018, and a short time later began her battle after being diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin's B cell lymphoma.
As Aubry trooped forward, she rallied a network of family and friends who collectively supported her while donning the designation "Aubry Strong." Aubry's aunt Kathleen shaved her head to demonstrate her support, as did her grandpa "Abuelo Nacho" and uncle Jose.
"The whole #Aubrystrong and support was amazing, eapecially with this rock in town of Woodburn behind us all the way," Amy said. "We love our Woodburn!"
The Lincoln Elementary School 5th grader endured her treatments and faced the illness head on. CCA spokeswoman Whitney Wilhardt noted that "through months of treatment, Aubry remained strong, never shedding a tear, making the very best of the situation. She's proud to tell you she's the official 'Slime Queen' of the hospital and has become good friends with her nurses."
Amy described her daughter as "a very stubborn, stubborn, stubborn girl." She credits that stubbornness with helping Aubry endure the rigorous and painful treatments for Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.
"We Honestly did not know what the future would hold for our daughter and we still do not know but the one thing we do know is that we have so much support from family, friends, basketball family, coworkers, the Woodburn community, and complete strangers," Amy said. "Childhood cancer has very high odds of coming back but at this point in our lives we take it day by day. We would like to thank the entire community from the bottom of our hearts for all the love and support we have gotten and continue to receive."
Aubry had to forego many of her favorite activities over the past year, including riding her bicycle, playing basketball and swimming. But during her treatments she reportedly discovered a love for music, and she found a new friend and chemo mentor, Jaylynn. Whitney said a highlight of their friendship was attending a Portland Trail Blazer game where they were named "Honorary Captains" of the game, and they got to meet Blazer star Damian Lillard on the court.
CCA sources also credit Aubry's stubbornness, believing it gave her strength throughout her treatment -- her cancer is now in remission.
"She's looking forward to practicing with her basketball team again and visiting the Alexandra Ellis Caring Cabin this July – exactly one year since she was diagnosed with cancer," Whitney noted. "This year, instead of undergoing tests at the hospital, she'll be enjoying a special retreat in nature surrounded by her extended family."
Aubry and her entire clan looks forward to that.
"She is going on 6 months of being cancer free. We are very excited to celebrate some family time over at Pacific City thanks to the CCA," Amy said. "Pacific City is a place that our flamily visits as often as we can between football, soccer and Bakstball games. We have been taking our children camping out at Sand Lake since they were newborns."
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