A Mother’s Thoughts When Her Two-Year-Old Daughter Was Diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Imagine the highs and lows that accompany the doctor’s announcement that your sweet, innocent two-year-old daughter has leukemia.

The good news is that your daughter has the type of leukemia that is most often cured. But is it really good news? It takes a while to fully understand what has happened to your child and even more time to accept it.

As you stand in the intensive care unit (ICU) where your child is fighting for her life, you think of the parents you have spoken with who were told that their child’s chances of survival are uncertain – or worse. Guilt is hard to avoid when you realize some children do not share the same odds as your child.

But then you look at your frightened little girl and realize that your entire focus must be on her. You must be strong and courageous for your daughter’s sake.

Now About Ellie

An article published by the St Baldrick’s Foundation describes the cancer treatment and recovery of Ellie. The storyline begins in the pediatric ICU when Ellie was two years old with the diagnosis of cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). It is high-risk B cell leukemia.

Ellie’s mother, Jessica, describes Ellie’s prognosis compared to so many families they spoke with who were not given any hope for their child’s future. Some parents were told that treatment had not yet been developed for their child’s rare type of cancer.

About ALL’s Survival Rate

Each year there are approximately three thousand children in the U.S., up to the age of twenty-one, diagnosed with ALL. Ellie’s doctor told her parents that ALL has perhaps the highest cure rate among childhood cancers.

About ninety percent of children with the disease survive a minimum of five years. The survival rate is somewhat higher for females.

According to the National Institute of Health, ALL is a form of cancer whereby the bone marrow makes too many lymphocytes (white blood cells.)

Jessica told their story to a St Baldricks Foundation reporter. She described her feelings as she watched her baby girl fighting for her life. It took twenty-eight months of treatment for Ellie to finally begin her life as a cancer survivor.

The next step was to strengthen her frail body which was weakened by the cancer treatment. The recovery took a considerable amount of time and months of physical therapy. When Jessica would mention her concerns about Ellie’s recovery, her friends and family would shrug and tell her to be grateful that Ellie survived and is alive and well.

About Long Term Effects

Ellie’s treatment was highly toxic. Jessica now understands the meaning of the words “long-term effects.” She will be forever grateful for Ellie’s survival. But then she describes the consequences of Ellie’s life-saving treatments.

It is All About Monitoring

Surviving childhood cancer is accompanied by lifelong monitoring. It means that a lingering cough, broken wrist, or any normal childhood occurrence must be examined. Jessica admits that these issues warrant testing but also create anxiety.

Other areas of concern caused by lengthy toxic treatments are the child’s weakened immune system, nerve damage, and cognitive defects among other issues. Every part of the child’s body is affected to a certain extent.

Jessica says that her emotions range from grief, fear, guilt, and relief, but most of all, thankfulness. As Jessica states, hopefully, the cancer will not return but its shadow will remain for the rest of Ellie’s life.

But most important, Ellie has celebrated her eighth birthday and remains cancer-free.

Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

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