A Two-Year-Old Born With Down Syndrome is Fighting off Acute Myeloid Leukemia

According to a story from People, a little girl from Ohio has faced major health challenges since her birth. Grace Rosian, who was born with Down syndrome, was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia. People with Down syndrome have a greatly increased risk of certain types of blood cancer, and as a result, Grace was already getting treated with chemotherapy when she was just two days old.
It is estimated that people with Down syndrome have 500 times the average risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This type of cancer affects the myeloid blood cells, which are found in the bone marrow. They build up at an extreme rate and eventually interfere with the activity of normal, healthy blood cells. Common symptoms include fatigue, increased risk of infection, bruising and bleeding easily, and shortness of breath. The affected cells are known to spread to other parts of the body such as the skin and brain as well as, more unusually, the gums. This can lead to severe gum swelling. As an acute blood cancer, acute myeloid leukemia can spread rapidly and can kill the patient in as little as a matter of weeks without prompt treatment. To learn more about acute myeloid leukemia, click here.

Grace’s situation was especially difficult for her mother, Valerie. In fact, Grace had to be born via emergency C-section after Valerie entered cardiac arrest. She was also significantly underweight. Thankfully, doctors told the family that Grace was cancer free after two months of treatment, but in all likelihood, they were told that her cancer may return. AML is a cancer type that is notorious for its tendency to relapse after treatment. Survival in individual cases also varies greatly, and it often depends on the chromosomal layout of the cancer cells. However, relapse generally means worse chances.

Unfortunately, the cancer did return, and Grace endured intensive chemotherapy in order to treat it. The experience took a major toll on her, and she was very ill on her first birthday. Incredibly, Grace’s second cancer battle ended in another victory, with the AML going into remission again.

While it is unclear what her future holds, Valerie and the rest of the family are grateful to finally have her at home. Valerie says that it has been an incredible journey with Grace, although the family is, as you can imagine, now facing high levels of financial stress. If you would like to help the family fund Grace’s medical expenses, click here. You can also keep up with Grace’s story on her Facebook page here.

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