Overwhelming support pours in for Grand Strand teenager battling leukemia, COVID-19

Grand Strand teenager suffering from COVID-19, leukemia receives support from across country

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – A Grand Strand teenager is receiving support from across the country after she contracted COVID-19 and then learned that she had leukemia.

Ariel Griffith, a 13-year-old student at Ocean Bay Middle School, got sick in December, just before Christmas.

Ariel Griffith, a 13-year-old Oceans Bay Middle School student, has been diagnosed with both COVID-19 and leukemia.
Ariel Griffith, a 13-year-old Oceans Bay Middle School student, has been diagnosed with both COVID-19 and leukemia. (Source: Lauren Hocin)

She was taken to Grand Strand Medical Center where she was treated for COVID-19. But according to Ariel’s mother, Lauren Hocin, Ariel’s condition worsened and they took her to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston where they ultimately learned that Ariel has leukemia.


“You never think, ‘Oh my gosh, my kid has cancer, or my kid has luekemia.’ Those are not the things you immediately go to, so it’s been a shock for us,” said Lauren Hocin.

The family started getting an outpouring of support on social media, which is when they asked people to start mailing cards to Tavern in the Forest, which is Ariel’s stepfather, Aaron Hocin’s, restaurant.

Over the past few weeks, they have been inundated with cards from all over the country, including Hawaii, Virginia and Florida. Several bags full of letters are already with Ariel at MUSC.

“The majority have been what other people have gone through, whether it’s coronavirus, cancer, tragedy and that they overcame it. We know Ariel is strong and she’s going to do the same thing. That is just so special to us,” Lauren Hocin said.

Ariel has two years of leukemia treatment ahead of her, but her mom said she’s starting to recover from the coronavirus and pneumonia and could be home soon.

Aaron Hocin hasn’t been able to see his stepdaughter in nearly a month, since she was admitted to the hospital. He said he can’t wait to see her when she gets out and share some of the cards with her.

“We’re looking forward to turning the page and getting her home and comfortable,” Aaron Hocin said.

The family plans on having a late Christmas celebration for her when she gets out of the hospital, which could be by the end of the week.

Ariel also wants to celebrate New Year’s, and they have plenty of cards to read to make those days a little more special.

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