SIOUX FALLS, SD -
More children are being diagnosed with cancer at Sanford Children's Hospital. Last year, Sanford Children's Specialty Clinic and hospital had a 30 percent increase in pediatric oncology patients with more than 2,000 visits directly related to kids with cancer. One of those patients is Sara Skyberg.
Beatrice Skyberg still carries the first photos she ever received of her daughter in her wallet.
"We just instantly fell in love with the pictures," Beatrice said.
She and her husband adopted three-year-old Sara more than a year ago.
"We just knew the moment we looked at the picture, we just fell in love with her. We didn't even give it a second thought whether we were going to try for another child," father Ray Skyberg, said.
Sara came to the U.S. from Nepal, where she spent more than two years in an orphanage. Police brought her there as a baby.
"They found her in a wooded area where they abandon children. The area is rampant with wild dogs and all this. We believe she was only three months old at the time," Ray said.
"The first time I met her she was not shy at all. I could tell her feeling was 'a mommy is all I want in this world,'" Beatrice said.
The three-year-old now has a loving mother and father who love to read and play with toys. But Sara still she doesn't quite comprehend her situation.
"She often asks me, 'Why are you my mommy?' I say, 'Because I love you unconditionally.' She doesn't really know what's unconditionally, but she knows how to say the word unconditionally," Beatrice said.
Despite the unconditional love and a family of her own, Sara's troubles were not over. Last summer, she wasn't feeling well. Doctors ran several tests and diagnosed the little girl with leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells.
"They told us that 80 percent of her blood was in the blast stage. So, it was 80 percent infected at that point," Ray said.
"I was just sitting on the chair for hours and kept thinking, 'Why did this happen?' She was just out of the orphanage, and we're ready to offer her the whole world," Beatrice said.
Many people in their situation may have wished they wouldn't have adopted. But the Skybergs say it's even more of a blessing because of the medical care available in the area.
"We're certain, and the people we've talked to are certain, that she probably would have only had a few more months left in that country because she wouldn't have received any treatment for cancer because of the cost," Ray said.
But instead, their little girl is full of life. With all the trials she's been through, Sara doesn't even seem to mind hospital stays, or the chemotherapy treatments and blood and platelet transfusions.
"Sara is doing great mostly because of her positive attitude. She faces every challenge with a smile and does a good job dealing with all the things that could potentially be setbacks for other people," Sanford Dr. Kaye Wagner said.
"Even sometimes when we force the drug and food in her mouth, she cries. But she realizes that's for her own good. Once I forced soup in her mouth. She was not happy at the moment, but afterwards she said, 'Thank you, Mommy.' It was so sweet," Beatrice said.
"Where's your rainbow? Do you see your rainbow?" Beatrice read to Sara from a book.
A rainbow at the end of a long storm is what the Skybergs are looking for for their little girl.
"I want her to live a full life every day. I want her to get the proper education and find the passion of her life. That's my hope for her," Beatrice said.
"We pray that she'll have a long and healthy life, and a successful life and, most importantly, a happy life," Ray said.
They're prayers for a happy life for a girl who puts smiles on so many other faces.
Sara is one of several inspiring children KELOLAND News will introduce to you during this year's Children's Miracle Network Special. The hour-long broadcast will air Thursday, April 5th, at 7 p.m. on KELO TV.
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