Laila Anderson is the 11-year old St. Louis Blues fan that went viral for her reaction to her invitation to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. KSDK called her a “good luck charm” for the Blues, who are looking for their first-ever title Wednesday night (8 p.m. EST, NBC).
She first earned attention for her fandom when she needed a bone marrow donor in Nov. 2018, which she received the following month. Several Blues team members have accepted her as an unofficial member of the team during their postseason run. STL Today writes:
The 11-year-old Blues fan, who is fighting a rare disease, “has been an inspiration to all of us throughout the year,” said Blues forward Patrick Maroon, the St. Louis native. “Alex Steen has done a good job of bringing her and making her comfortable, Colton Parayko same way – making her feel welcome to the team. And the St. Louis Blues welcome her and her family. She’s a fighter, and she’s going to continue to fight. She’s our inspiration – we look up to her, what she has to go through every single day.
“To get on that plane, we know the doctors questioned getting her on there because of her health. To say that she gets to come and travel out here and see us play – I’m so happy for her.
“What she has to go through every single day is a lot tougher than what we have to do.”
That disease is HLH, which stands for Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocystosis. Here’s a quick explanation of the condition.
What is HLH?
Anderson is one of 15 children to suffer from this rare condition. According to Johns Hopkins Medical, the disease makes a person’s white blood cells attack other cells, severely affecting one’s immune system.
“These abnormal blood cells collect in your spleen and liver, causing these organs to enlarge,” the site states.
The symptoms include:
- Enlargement of your liver
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Skin rashes
- Jaundice (yellow color of your skin and eyes)
- Lung problems, including coughing and difficulty breathing
- Digestive problems, including stomachache, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Nervous system problems, including headache, trouble walking, visual disturbances, and weakness
Anderson has battled way longer than most cases. According to Rare Diseases, about a quarter afflicted with HLH only last five years or less.
This just speaks to the resilience of Anderson, who has inspired the city of St. Louis all NHL season long.