FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) -- Our week-long in-depth look called The Gift of Hope Happens Here wraps up Friday.
Diana Overman is an 11-year-old 5th grader from Fort Wayne, who's been a patient at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis most of her young life and in a wheelchair since age three.
She had her thyroid removed when she was seven in a fight against cancer... cancer that's now returned after being in remission.
Diana also has cerebral palsy.
She was a preemie and nearly died more than once from infections.
But, Diana's a fighter. She's thankful for her loving family and doctors, and she's a 2014 Riley Champion.
I sat down with her, her younger sister Sarah, who was also treated at Riley for asthma and with their mom, Karen.
Their message is one of strength, faith and hope.
Karen Rodenbeck says, "She's had 46 surgeries in her lifetime, here so far. 21 of those have been at Riley."
Diana Overman says, "Roller coaster. My body's a mess some days. I'm honest about it. Some days it is a mess."
Diana says, "I used to always say I was one of those lucky Riley moms. We would go down for the CP Clinic. We would go down to see the eye doctor and spend a day down there, do some testing, ultrasound scans, whatever, blood work and go back home. That changed 5 years ago this December 3rd. After having spent almost the whole month of October in Lutheran and multiple surgeries, almost having lost her on the table a couple of times, we went down for a second opinion. We were told 2 or 3 day stay. 7 and a half weeks later, she came home."
Diana says, "You let diseases like cancer and CP win. You let those diseases win if you're not positive."
Karen says, "When we were down there for those 7 and a half weeks, the kitchen staff found out she had to gain weight, and they said what can we do to help? The nurse said she loves fried mushrooms and ranch dressing. So, every time they got a supply in, they would make a whole bag of fried mushrooms up and send them up."
Diana says, "I'm a pageant queen, so the work I do with people like one of my friends, Courtney, who's also a pageant queen, who at one point was Miss 3 Rivers Festival, goes back to Riley. And that means more and more babies and kids like me are surviving. That's how you stay positive."
Karen says, "Every day that we can spend under the same roof is a blessing. It's through my faith and my family. My family's always had the never give up attitude. And, I was never gonna give up. I'm thankful for my faith, for my husband, my family, my parents, my children, and I'm very thankful for Riley."
Doctors at Riley and in Cincinnati are looking over Diana's case for the best option because there may already be too much radioactive iodine in her fragile body.
My thanks to the entire family. They're amazing.
We hope you'll help Riley... if you can.
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