Alyssa Lewis & her two kids

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Having two children diagnosed with cancer, at the exact same time, was something Alyssa Lewis never imagined would happen to her little family.

“At the beginning, I was really just in survival mode,” Alyssa said.

The first diagnosis came from her then 7-year-old daughter Abigail, who’d been suffering from severe back pain.

The pain was getting really extreme at the end and it was like really scary to not even know what’s happening with you.


“Countless nights of being woken up several times with her screaming in pain and us having to run Epsom salt baths or low dose Tylenol, you know things to help mitigate that pain,” Alyssa said.

After going without answers for so long, pediatric doctors at Arkansas Children’s (ACH) in Little Rock finally figured out what was causing the pain.

Abigail Lewis while being treated at Arkansas Children’s in Little Rock

An MRI revealed she had a mass, and in May 2018 she was diagnosed with a soft tissue cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Abigail said at the time, she didn’t even know what cancer was.

While this diagnosis is not the answer the mother-daughter duo were hoping for, it was at least a step in the direction of finding relief to something she’d suffered from for so long.

Abigail received much of her treatment at ACH, but was also able to be seen at Arkansas Children’s Northwest (ACNW) in Springdale for labs and blood and plasma transfusions.

During one of her stays in Little Rock, the unthinkable happened.

Kendryck Vanlaningham on his second birthday

Kendryck, Abigail’s brother who was 2 at the time, had to be hospitalized at ACNW with a severe respiratory infection.

After running some lab tests, pediatric doctors decided he would also need to be cared for at ACH.

Kendryck was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit for between four and five days and then he was moved to the Hematology and Oncology department.

“Whenever Kendryck got flown over to the Little Rock children’s hospital I was over in room 1 and he was over in room 2,” Abigail said.

It was January 2019, when Alyssa learned that not only did her little girl have cancer, but so did her little boy, who was diagnosed with leukemia.

Abigail & Kendryck

“I don’t think I fully even processed Abigail’s diagnosis before now having to navigate his,” Alyssa said.

Like Abigail, Kendryck had to have a port installed for his chemo treatments.

The siblings would spend the next couple of years going between ACH and ACNW, where they received life-saving care.

Abigail is now 11-years-old and she’s in remission.

Five-year-old Kendryck is in the maintenance phase of his treatment.

Alyssa said, “Abigail’s done with treatment, Kendryck’s getting close to it, so it feels kind of like senior year and you’re ready to say goodbye and you’re ready to be done with cancer.”

The siblings are using their stories to serve as a testament to the treatment provided at ACH and ACNW.

“The only real reason I can feel that they both have this is because they are such great ambassadors,” Alyssa said.

This year, Abigail and Kendryck are serving as the 2021 Virtual Color of Hope Gala Champion Children.

The hope is their experiences of having to travel across the state to receive necessary treatment will inspire others to give to ACNW, so this same care can be provided closer to home.

The Will Golf 4 Kids Tournament tees off Thursday, August 5 and continues on Friday, August 6. Both days will be in-person, socially distanced events.

The Virtual Color of Hope Gala will be held Saturday, August 7.

Read more about how the Will Golf 4 Kids Tournament and the 2021 Color of Hope Gala will benefit Arkansas Children’s Northwest.