ATLANTA — Mikari Tarpley could never have imagined all that her 16th birthday would bring.
“It was a sense of denial, is this actually happening to me?" Mikari said.
Mikari is a young actress from Atlanta. She was in the movie "Alex & Me" in 2018 and is an avid dancer and singer. Four months before her birthday, doctors diagnosed her with Hodgkin’s lymphoma
“Initially it was scary when we got an inkling she has cancer; we never wanted to say the word,” her mom Tomaree said.
Mikari’s first thought was, “Am I going to die?”
Her mom says watching her take on this challenge has been amazing.
“She has been a trooper, she has fought; but she keeps smiling," she said.
“I had to look at it in a different way,” Mikari said. “It’s going to be a journey and it’s going to be something I can tell my kids one day.”
Mikari focused on her future and her upcoming Sweet 16. She has a lot of friends, and her family got busy planning a big fun party for June 23.
“Of course, all of that stopped when the world changed with coronavirus," her mom said.
Mikari Tarpley raising money for sickle cell research after cancer battle
Life was suddenly rounds of chemotherapy and Covid-19 quarantine. Longer than most people’s quarantine, because Mikari’s cancer makes her medically fragile.
They’ve been at home since March 16.
“We have been locked in together,” her mom laughed.
They’ve been locked in and doing a lot of good for others in that time.
Mikari and her mom had an idea - “Since there wasn’t much to do for my 16th birthday because of corona we thought, 'why don’t we do a fundraiser?'”
They chose to make a goal of $16,000 for her Sweet 16 to help children with sickle cell, a blood disorder, through the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorder Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Sickle cell is a painful blood disease that affects one out of 365 African Americans.
- If you’d like to help the Tarpley family reach their $16,000 goal, you’ll find the information to donate here. All the money will go directly to Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorder Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“We thought about how we could make an impact,” Tomaree said.
They felt it was a way to support African American children, recent protests, and Black Lives Matter.
It has been a hard few months. Mikari and her family have seen how vital support is when you are going through medical challenges. It’s why they are so glad to be able to give back.
Mikari is making great progress.
“A week ago, I had my last chemo appointment," she said. “I am feeling amazing.”
Mikari says she could never have imagined what her 16th birthday would bring; and she is thankful for all she has been through, all she has learned, and the opportunity to help others.
“There are so many things to be happy for or grateful for," she said.
Her mom said, “She is learning to appreciate life itself and her way of appreciating life.”