Diagnosis: Acute Myeloid Leukemia
This story was shared by Emmaís mom in June, 2014
In September 2013, our 18-month-old daughter Emma suffered from a series of what we thought were common childhood illnesses. This included an ear infection, stomach problems, pink eye and a diaper rash that would not clear up.
By the first weekend in October, Emma became so lethargic she would just fall to the floor in a heap. On Oct. 5, I had the worst feeling of panic I had ever had as I saw that my daughter was too weak to move. Took her to an urgent care and they advised me to go to the Minneapolis Childrenís Hospitalís ER. Two days later on October 7, 2013, Emma spiked a fever and was still too tired to move.
We returned to the ER that day, and Emma's diagnosis of leukemia was made. She had AML. My husband and I were in shock. How could this happen to our precious little girl? She was so funny, loving and active. What did it all mean? We really just could not believe what we were hearing from the oncologist.
We were quickly admitted and Emmaís battle started right away. Her specific course of treatment consisted of four rounds of chemotherapy. Emma had to remain inpatient for about a month for each round. We could then spend a week at home in between the rounds, provided things were going well. Emma's chemotherapy treatments were aggressive.
So, the treatment was brutal and she ended up in the pediatric ICU on a ventilator twice. During her treatment my husband and I basically lived at the hospital for five months on an air mattress on the floor of Emmaís room.
Our sweet, loving and funny little Emma endured high fevers, vomiting, a central line infection and a variety of viral infections. But, we were always there with her. On at least a few occasions we were not sure if our daughter would live or die, and so the hospital stays were long and scary. But, Emma was incredibly strong and resilient. Curiously, she developed a love for lemons, pickled red cabbage and pickles during her chemo.
Emma finally finished her treatments March 11, 2014. Our oncologist informed us that Emma had a 75% chance of not relapsing. Although we love Emma with all of our hearts each and every day and we try to stay positive, the fear of relapse is always there. Each monthly check-up to look for signs of relapse causes anxiety, but each time we come away with a negative result we are one step closer to declaring her a cancer survivor.
We sincerely wish that no other parents have to be told that their child has cancer. The diagnosis comes with a fear that is indescribable and enduring. So, we believe that providing more funding for pediatric cancer research is of great importance. Emma is a co-honoree for a Cookies for Kidís Cancer event happening in June and we hope that the money raised in her honor brings us a little closer to a cure for childhood cancer.