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Make Sure Abby Is Not Alone This Holiday Season

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Abby’s Story

This is the link you want to click to read the story of Abby's diagnosis, and early treatment.

Abby was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia on March 20th 2006.

She finished treatment May 25th 2008!



Early in March of 2006, Abby started complaining that her wrist hurt. She said she had banged it on the kitchen sink. Eric took her to get it x-rayed, which showed no fractures or breaks. She had a half-cast on for a week to let whatever was wrong heal. She complained of various aches in her body over the next week; and started feeling sick over the weekend of the 17th-19th. I thought perhaps she had an ear infection, as she said her ears hurt; but also that her other wrist was hurting. We brought her in to our family doctor Monday the 20th. He ordered blood work, and an x-ray of the other wrist, although I knew she had not injured in it any way, as she had been very inactive the last few days. That evening, we got a call from the on-call doctor saying the blood work came back with abnormal readings. Her hematocrit was very low, severe anemia; and the white count was elevated. He recommended we bring her in to the emergency room; so we went to Samaritan Hospital. There they started a transfusion, as her hematocrit was less than 4, when it should be around 11. They told us they were preparing to transfer her to Albany Medical Center; so we knew it was more serious than just severe anemia. We were met at Albany Med by Dr.Sills, who is the director of Pediatric Hemotology/Oncology. He sat us down in another room and told us he was 98% sure she had leukemia; they were just waiting results of a smear test. When that came in, they had their diagnosis. Further tests showed that it was the more common ALL type, and that all her sub-types were the kinds that were most treatable. We were given a very postive prognosis: 85-90% chance of recovery. Abby was admitted to the Children's Hospital in Albany Med, where she stayed for the next week. At first, she needed all sorts of meds to aid in ridding her blood of the by-products of the breakdown of all the white cells. She needed two transfusions of red cells, and three of platelets. The first transfusion of platelets caused an allergic reaction, so ones done after that required steroids and benedryl to be given first. Wednesday the 22nd she had surgery to place a sub-cutaneous port-o-cath, and receive a spinal tap and bone marrow biopsy. She got a dose of chemo injected right into the spinal fluid, and her first dose of vincristine, another chemo med into the port. A day or two later, she received a different chemo med injected into her leg muscles. The spinal tap and bone marrow tests were repeated on the 8th day of treatment. We were so happy to hear how well she is responding to treatment. At the time of the first test, there was 95% leukemic cells in the marrow; and on the 8th day there was 5%!! She will not have those tests again until around the 30th day of treatment. Less than 5% is considered remission. The long period of treatment is to ensure that all leukemic cells are destroyed, and do not return.

Latest Journal Update

Survivin' and thrivin' :-)

So, it was five years ago today that we were heading home from a trip of a lifetime, Abby's Make A Wish trip, and I got to thinking about where Abby is at in her life's journey today, and thought it would be good to update.

Since I last updated (more than a year ago!) Abby has had a number of milestones and good things going on. This spring marked five years since her leukemia diagnosis, which in the cancer world, when you get to the 5 year EFS (Event Free Survival), you are considered "cured". So that was a major milestone that went by without much fanfare, but really, the best thing ever! Each clinic checkup has been good, and Abby "graduated" to only having to go every 6 months, after the last checkup!

This past spring, Abby was in the 6th grade play, a musical version of 101 Dalmatians, where she was a Canine Narrator, and took part in the song and dance numbers. :-) She and her dad went to Boston on the 6th grade trip. She played her second year of softball, and her team again took 12U championship!  She graduated from 6th grade (see photo in gallery), went to Double H Ranch camp, which she loves.Barb, Eric and I attended their talent show, were we got to see her again singing and dancing on stage! Who would have ever believed that shy little girl of several years ago would be doing that?! :-)

This fall, Abby started Junior High. Abby was MADE for Junior High! She has really thrived and excelled since starting there. Already she was voted Student of the Month for her hall for October, got straight A's on her first quarter report card, and gotten on the high honor roll. She joined several after school activities, including Russian Club. She went to NYC with the Russian Club and toured the East Side Tenement Museum, and the Guggenheim; and had lunch in a Russian restaurant. Yes, she chose to study Russian in school! She does like to challenge herself. She has an A+ in the class. It is so cool to hear her speaking in Russian. She has a large group of friends, and a smaller circle of "besties". 

At this point, Abby's future goals for herself are to continue to get all A's and eventually go to Yale, either to be a lawyer or surgeon. (there's those high standards she sets for herself). She can't wait until she is old enough to get a job, other than the occasional baby sitting she does for her Aunt Tracy.

Abby's sisters are all doing well. Sarah and her fiance Jake moved home from Florida this fall, along with their two Daschunds. They are staying here with us :-) She and Jake got their old jobs back, and were working the day after they flew home! We also got another dog when I went to visit Sarah in Florida back in May, Happy Feet is the younger brother of Sarah and Jake's dogs! Hannah graduated from Shaker High in January, and started online classes through Bryant and Stratton College in March. She has had excellent grades, and is studying Medical Office Administration. Bekah is doing great over in the high school, and has discovered she enjoys and does well in Biology. She is considering a future in that field, but still keeping her options open :-)

So, giving thanks at this time of year, for Abby's continued health, and for all of the girls doing well. What more could we ask for? I would wish that all children who are diagnosed with cancer to be healed and able to enjoy life, as Abby is doing. 

Happy holidays, happy New Year, and love to all!!