In March 2010, Iyanna wasn't feeling well one morning before school, so I checked her temperature - it was 104. We kept her home from school that day and gave her Tylenol to break her fever. By the end of the day, she seemed better – and so began a cycle of fevers that would come and go along with a very tired little girl.
Over the next few days, Iyanna's teacher, Ronnie Nelson, called saying that Iyanna just wasn't herself. She seemed very quiet and lethargic. Mrs. Nelson had a very specific eye on Iyanna because her own daughter, Chrissy, had battled Leukemia in 2003-2004 and lost her battle with the disease. She was so attentive and urged us to call the doctors and ask for blood work, which we did.
On March 17, 2010, Iyanna wanted to go to school, so we let her again. That morning when I got to work at 8am, I got the call from the doctor's office, that Iyanna's blood work was off and to take her to Sunrise Children's Hospital immediately for further testing to confirm what the results were showing – Leukemia. I called my husband and we went to the school to get Iyanna and went straight to the hospital.
A few hours later we met our oncologist, Dr. Ronald Kline, for the first time. Dr. Kline came in to meet with us and confirmed that it was Leukemia. He said that she was being admitted to the hospital right away, and that they had to do surgery first thing in the morning to test her CNS (Central Nervous System) to see if there were any Leukemic cells in her brain and spinal fluid. And they would be implanting a Port-a-Cath, which is how she would be getting her chemo and other meds needed over the next 2-3 years of treatments. All in one sitting, we learned our daughter had cancer, needed surgery immediately, and would be in treatment for years. This news turned our world upside down.
The next day, March 18, 2010, Iyanna was baptized in her hospital room, and we were on our way down to the operating room with our baby girl. Everything went well in surgery, and Dr. Kline said that we were very lucky to have Mrs. Nelson in our lives, because thanks to her, we caught the disease about 2-3 weeks earlier than most families get the chance to.
Since then, Iyanna went through many different phases in her treatment and she's now, thankfully, on maintenance. Every day now is all based around her blood counts. They go high at times and then very low. But the real challenge is sitting right there watching our baby fighting this disease. It's the worst feeling in the world.
She will not be considered cured until 5 years after she finishes maintenance, so we have a very long road ahead of us, but we'll get there, with all of our family and friends prayers, and the hope of organizations like Cookies for Kids' Cancer.