Some people have a bucket list.

Leanna "Lee" Ramirez has a living list.

The 18-year-old Hilliard Davidson High School senior has the remnants of a malignant ependymoma, a type of tumor, nestled against her brain stem, but since a March 2017 surgery to remove most of it, the Ramirez family has traveled to the Bahamas and Hawaii as well as whitewater rafting on the Colorado River.

"Tomorrow isn't promised to us," said Janet Ramirez, Lee's mother, as the family of four, including her husband, John, and their son, Julian, 12, a sixth-grader at Tharp Sixth Grade School, continue to share experiences sooner rather than later.

The Ramirezes – who live in Dublin's Ballantrae neighborhood, which is in the Hilliard City Schools boundaries – also work tirelessly to help other families who experience pediatric cancer.

The family's most recent effort was a districtwide "Go Gold Day" on Oct. 23 that also was particularly visible on social-media platforms.

Hilliard-based Powell Prints provided T-shirts bearing the phrase "Hilliard Goes Gold for Pediatric Cancer" at a discount. They were sold to benefit the Feel Better Foundation and Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, support organizations for families of pediatric-cancer patients.

Shirts still may be purchased at

John Ramirez, a teacher at Hilliard Weaver Middle School, hatched the idea in September – Pediatric Cancer Month – but needed more time to launch the effort.

"I can't thank everyone enough for all the support we've received," he said.

For example, when his daughter was diagnosed, his fellow teachers donated personal time to allow him to spend most of the year with his family, John Ramirez said.

Last month, Janet Ramirez traveled with others to Washington, D.C., for the annual CureFest for Childhood Cancer.

She was there to lobby Congress to allocate a greater share of federal funding for pediatric-cancer research because only 4% currently is allocated there, she said.

Closer to home, the family members work to pass along what they learned in the aftermath of Lee's cancer diagnosis and surgery after their world was upended in March 2017.

"We felt so lost," Janet Ramirez said about March 15, 2017, the day the family learned Lee had a malignant brain tumor.

The family sought an MRI after her bouts with nausea, fatigue, losing balance and fainting continues to worsen.

"We knew something was wrong," Janet Ramirez said.

But even after the diagnosis, "we didn't ask, 'Why us?' " she said. "To ask, 'Why us?' would indicate, 'Why not someone else (instead)? ... We don't want (pediatric cancer) for anyone."

Lee underwent surgery five days later and another 10 days after that, during which 95% of the tumor mass was removed.

The remaining 5% could not be safely removed, Janet Ramirez said, because it would have compromised her central nervous system.

Lee Ramirez said she recalled feeling "flooded" when the surgeon explained her condition and later "scared ... but I knew I had the love and support to come out of it."

For the ensuing eight months, Lee Ramirez could not swallow and was required to use a feeding tube, but today she has few visible effects apart from the loss of one vocal cord and left-side hearing. However, lingering headaches required her to stop playing lacrosse, a sport she played through eighth grade; she did not play at Davidson her freshman year because she was diagnosed with the tumor.

Teachers and tutors who visited Lee Ramirez at her house allowed her to complete her sophomore year, and she will graduate as planned in the class of 2020.

Looking back, Lee Ramirez said, she thought "something else might come out of it, too," which perhaps is the Ramirez family helping others, including the family of Aria Tarantine, 11, Julian's sixth-grade classmate at Tharp.

Aria was diagnosed last year with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. She currently is in remission.

"When Aria was diagnosed, we were obviously devastated, heartbroken and felt very alone," said Amber Tarantine, Aria's mother. The Ramirez family "made us feel part of a warm, supportive community and gave us hope and positive encouragement.

"Watching how Janet's family lives with cancer gives us hope and inspiration to stay positive. Lee is also a wonderful example for Aria to be a warrior and a champion."

Meanwhile, Lee Ramirez said, she looks forward to making additional check marks on her family's living list -- a trip to Italy, where her father has roots, lies on the horizon.

"I'm looking forward to enjoying every moment," she said.