Emma LaPaglia Emma's Journey

First post: 5/13/2017 Latest post: 7/17/2017
(April 23) It all started with a fever that wouldn't go away.  Emma was tired and bruising easily. I took her to the Doctor and she was placed on antibiotics (they initially suspected a UTI). She was on the antibiotics for 10 days.

(May 9) The fever returned and I took her back. The Doctor did a finger prick and said she was anemic. That doesn't explain the fevers so I requested that her Pediatrician run a CBC (blood work) for fear that something worse was going on. I took her to Quest where she had 6 vials drawn. She didn't even flinch. 

(May 10) Her Pediatrician called me at 10:30am. She told me to pack a bag, pick up Emma from school and head to the Hematologist's office for an appointment that she already set up. She said that Emma's RBC levels were critically low and she would need a blood transfusion for severe anemia. I didn't panic. Immediately after we hung up, the Hematologist's office called to instruct me to fill out new patient paperwork. Their website read: HEMATOLOGY ONCOLOGY. "Oh my god," I thought, "they think she has blood cancer." 

The meeting with the Hematologist went well. She's a straight shooter and I respect that. Her RBC count was at a 6 (normal is 11-12), her WBC count was low and her hematocrit level (the volume of RBC out of total number of blood cells) was at 20% (normal is 32%). Emma would need to spend the night at the hospital that night (Wednesday 5/10/17), she would need a bone marrow biopsy on 5/11 and then we could go home. I knew she was ruling out cancer with the biopsy even though she didn't say it. I still didn't panic.

Emma was put in room 254 at Palms West 
Hospital. She received a unit (bag) of O+ blood. Luckily she experienced no adverse reactions. More labwork showed her RBC went up to 11 and hematrocrit is now 32%. The transfusion worked and she started looking much healthier. 

(May 11, 2017)
Emma had a biopsy of her bone marrow taken from her left hip. Dr. Singer performed the procedure in the therapy room on the PEDS floor, down the hall from her room. They gave Emma propofol to knock her out. She said she felt funny, said we were all talking too much and then asked my permission to go to sleep. The biopsy was done with no complications and we would know the preliminary results in a few hours. Emma woke up thinking her Dad and I never left her side. "Well that didn't take long," she said. We all laughed. This kid is amazing.

A few hours later Dr. Singer called. The Pathologist saw some abnormalities in her WBC and would need to stay another night as a precaution. Further testing would be done later that evening and we would know exactly what's going on with her marrow in the morning. She told us not to worry that it could be nothing. 

At this point, I knew she had some kind of blood cancer. That night I prayed it would be a cancer she could fight and win... a cancer that wouldn't kill her.

(May 12)
I remember telling Emma's dad that if Dr. Singer called that meant her marrow was clear and we could go home. I told him that if Dr. Singer came in and had someone with her then we need to prepare for bad news.

Dr. Singer showed up with a social worker. My heart sank into my stomach when I saw her in the doorway. I told myself to stay strong, listen carefully and not faint. She asked to see us in another room. I stared at the floor as I followed behind her. I knew what was coming and was now in full denial. This cannot be happening right now. Not to her - not after all she's been through this past year.

We sat on the couch across from Dr. Singer. "It's not good news," she said, "she has Leukemia." My ears started ringing and I burst into tears. Terrified for my baby and the next few years ahead of her. "Is she going to die?!" was the only thing I managed to get out through my sobs. "No" she answered firmly. 

....and so we begin Emma's journey...

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