Nobody expects their child to be diagnosed with cancer. The idea of facing cancer at a young age can be shocking, terrifying. So when 4-year-old Ash Timmerman seemed slightly “off,” his parents never suspected that it might be acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Instead, reports 7 News, the family thought Ash might be coming down with a viral illness of some sort.
It all began around Christmas. Ash, who has a speech delay, wasn’t able to express what was wrong to his parents. However, mom Natasha knew that something was going on. Ash seemed distraught and in pain. She and her partner Adam took Ash to the doctor, where he was given antibiotic treatment. But his condition didn’t seem to improve. Suddenly, Natasha found herself facing an extremely stressful situation. She found herself visiting the hospital more and more. Nothing was found, but Natasha wouldn’t drop it. Something was happening to her son, she told doctors. They needed help.
Eventually, a blood test came back with the results: Ash had ALL. Natasha, Adam, and Sienna (Ash’s older sister) couldn’t believe it. They felt overwhelmed by fear, grief, and worry. What did that mean for Ash? For his future?
Since his diagnosis, Ash has undergone a series of treatments: blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, and chemotherapy. These treatments have, on a larger scale, contributed to better ALL outcomes. However, these treatments can be traumatizing for patients and families and may come with a host of uncomfortable side effects. The Children’s Hospital Foundation is currently working to develop effective therapies with less side effects that can be used to treat younger patients. You can even find Ash’s story on their webpage, where Natasha is asking for donations to expand and improve the treatment landscape. If you’d like to donate, you can donate here.
Outside of raising funds, Natasha is also tirelessly raising ALL awareness. Her platform of choice: TikTok. Initially, Natasha launched her account during International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. She felt that it was imperative to increase the understanding of what childhood cancer is and what impact it has on families. Since then, her account has grown, creating a community for others whose lives have been touched by pediatric cancer. Her TikTok account covers the family, as well as information on treatments, symptoms, and more.
About Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
Also known as: Acute lymphocytic leukemia; acute lymphoid leukemia
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a form of blood and bone marrow cancer. It progresses rapidly and forms from immature lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. This leads to the production of additional immature blood cells, all which prevent the body from working properly. Unlike other forms of cancer, ALL typically isn’t characterized by tumor formation. But this doesn’t mean that the cancer can’t spread. Without intervention, ALL may progress to affect your liver, spleens, or lymph nodes.
ALL can occur in children and adults, though it is more common in children. In fact, ALL is considered the most common form of childhood cancer. It is also extremely treatable and comes with a mostly positive prognosis. Treatments may include chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, surgery, radiation, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Alternately, in adults, ALL is rare, treatment-averse, and often has severe symptoms. Risk factors for developing this cancer include having a sibling with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, prior radiation treatment, and certain genetic conditions.
If you have acute lymphoblastic leukemia, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Fever and night sweats
- Fatigue and weakness
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pale skin
- Bone pain
- Frequent infections
- Tiny red spots (petechiae) under the skin
- Easy and abnormal bruising or bleeding
- Dizziness or lightheadedness