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Abby’s Story

It all started with a bump on her head that had popped up in late July early August. At first we didn’t think much of it, because kids get bumps and scrapes all the time. When it didn’t go away and became more painful Mom, (Tricia) made an appointment to go see the doctor. On Friday September 21st, 2012 Abby had the lump removed at the Allina clinic in Shakopee. When the doctor removed it she was not concerned. A biopsy was sent in and we still had no idea of how that lump would change our lives. 

Abby is a very active girl. When she isn’t running around with the neighborhood kids playing, she’s active with football, baseball, boating, camping, sledding, and many other activities. She enjoys playing Barbie’s, cooking, reading, watching movies, snuggling with her four dogs or throwing a dance party. She is a very thoughtful girl and always thinks of others needs before her own. She is also a very funny girl and after spending some time with her you can’t help but smile and laugh.

On September 26th, 2012 Tricia got a call from the clinic saying they needed to see us immediately, this is never a good call. Abby was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). AML is a type of leukemia that is usually found in adults and it is rare for people under 40. AML is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow-the spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are made. Acute means that it is a rapidly progressing cancer. The next day we were off to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis to get further testing and to begin treatment. 

Treatments 2012-2013

A Day in the Life of Abby: 

When we were in treatment a day in the life of Abby looked very different. AML child patients require strong doses of chemotherapy. The chemo completely wipes out the bone marrow and patients require isolation, prophylactic antibiotics and antifungals and blood and platelet transfusions. A typical round began with 5-10 days of several types of chemotherapy followed by strict isolation in the hospital (confinement to one floor or sometimes just our hospital room) for 25 days or more. Abby would remain in the hospital until her bone marrow restarted and blood counts came back to a level in which they felt comfortable for us to take a mental health break at home. While we were home during breaks (7-10 days) Abby required daily flushes and heparin locking of her Hickman, sterile cap changes every 4 days and dressing changes at least every seven days. She had a G-tube placed in her stomach to administer medications or food when she wouldn’t eat. Abby took meds several times a day and sometimes required tube feedings. The treatment presented different challenges, including a blood clot in her right atrium and a very serious infection. Abby was brave during every step. During Abby’s last round prior to relapse she developed an Alpha Hemolytic Strep infection and spent weeks in the PICU. She was intubated, heavily sedated and on dialysis. Following that stay Abby had to learn to walk again. At home she was on tube feedings and took meds around the clock. We did her blood pressure at least three times a day and visited the clinic several times a week. Abby faced all of this with a fighting attitude. She missed her family, friends, school and her dogs while going through this treatment.

We were released from the hospital on February 26th, 2013. We were given the “all-clear, no more cancer” on March 25th, 2013. She had her Hickman and G Tube removed on March 27th, 2013. Her recovery from her fourth round was difficult with lots of physical therapy and clinic visits. 

Relapse and Treatment 2013-present

Abby relapsed in September 2013 and began rounds at Children’s in Minneapolis in September 2013. Abby had a Hickman placed prior to beginning treatment. She endured three more intense rounds at Children’s before moving to Rochester in February 2014 for a transplant. 

We moved to Rochester on February 10th and began pre-transplant chemotherapy. Abby was isolated in the transplant unit at the Mayo Clinic Hospital, St. Mary’s. Her chemo was more intense than during her rounds previous. She was very ill and required tube feedings well past hospitalization. Abby received her transplant on February 19th, 2014. Shortly afterward she developed early signs of Veno-Occlusive Disease, her liver was failing. She was put on a study as a compassionate use patient. Abby was moved to the PICU and was put on dialysis. She had a catheter placed in her neck and a PICC line placed in her arm. She recovered and was moved back to the transplant unit. We checked out of the hospital and into a place we rented in Rochester on March 23, 2014. We were able to move home to Shakopee on April 2, 2014. Abby had a weekly appointment at the Mayo Clinic and a weekly appointment with Children’s in Minneapolis. We continued to monitor her for fevers and signs of infection. If she spiked a fever of 100.4F or higher we had to immediately go to the Children’s ER for antibiotics and possible admission. Abby went home on tube feedings and meds several times a day, including an IV medication. 

After a significant improvement in her health in July 2014 she started to decline in health in August 2014. She had to have a PICC line placed in her arm, was on IV fluids and had several appointments a week both at Children’s in Minneapolis and at the Mayo Clinic. Her liver and kidney functions were concerning, she had significant GI problems and she began to show signs of graft vs. host disease of her skin. We have been dealing with Abby being on oral steroids and topical steroids to control the rash on her skin. She remains on multiple medicines to protect her from infection. She is unable to return to school because of the medications she is on. Abby is doing very well considering all she has been through. If you were to ask her how she was, even on the darkest day she always said “good” or “fine.” 

She is surrounded by her parents, her sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends and even people we don’t know with constant support. 

We encourage Abby (and ourselves) to celebrate every day. We live each day for the little things, for the moments that matter most. For her future she is currently hoping to be a chef, to make movies, to learn to drive, to get married and have kids and to be a mom. 


Latest Journal Update

January 2016

Well things have been pretty busy. Can you believe that January is almost over?


Abby is doing pretty well. She is 12 now so her sass is out of control. We'll take it.


I got an email from my friend Holly in Idaho. She organized a Be The Match donor drive a couple years ago. They had about 25 people register during the first drive and one of the girls was a match for someone! She flew to Denver to donate. She wanted us to know that She did the drive because of Abby and because of Abby this girl was a match to someone else. It's amazing how this world works. Anyway, thought you would like to hear that.


Alannah is in hospice now at home. Her cancer is everywhere, she will not be going to clinic ever again. We had the honor of having a wonderful swimming party weekend with her and her family and friends earlier this month.


Thanks for hanging in here with us!


Trish
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Comments

8 Comments

John & Toni Sacco
By
Our prayers are for your friend Alannah and her family as well as you Abby for your continued health.. Love you all❤️
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1 person hearted this
jean nies
By Jean Nies
Prayers for Alannah and her family. So hard to think about it. I'm currently following the Care Pages for an 11 year old from out town who received a bone marrow transplant last week Friday and his donor, a perfect match, is from Germany. The day was very tense as the plane carrying the marrow had to come through the horrific storm on the east coast, so everyone here in MN was on the edge waiting to hear that the container made it safely to MN. One week after transplant Carter is doing well, now we are just waiting to hear when the white cells show up. Take care Abby, be strong, fight like a girl. Hugs.
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Deanna Hofmeister
By
Abby, I am so proud of you and how well you are doing.
It makes my heart smile!
Happy February!
Love, Deanna
Mikaela's Aunt
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Tami Price
By Tami Price
Trish, would you be able to send me a mailing address to send a card to Alannah? I totally understand if you can't. My email is tami@ruttgers.com
Tami (Taylor Grace's Gma)
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Sarah Olson
By Sarah Olson
Ugh. I'm just heart broken about Alannah.
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Tim Erickson
By Tim Erickson
I have been following the journals regarding Abby. So glad to hear the good news for quite sometime.

The news regarding her friend Alannah is difficult.

As I have done for the last five years I will continue to do what I can by fund raising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I want all the outcomes to be like Abby's. Some day that will happen.
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shari Streit
By shari Streit
Happy news!! Sad about Allanah though. Very very cute pic of the girls!
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