Our world completely changed on September 12, 2007. My 3-year-old daughter Ashley was scheduled for what I expected to be a simple appointment with her pediatrician. I was concerned about her limping for about three weeks, along with complaints about pain in the back of her right knee. I initially attributed this to growing pains that I had heard about, but began to get concerned when it continued. When Ashley’s Pediatrician was observing her he noticed her liver and spleen were severely enlarged. He immediately sent us for blood work and x-rays. A few hours later I received a phone call from him letting us know Ashley’s blood results showed signs of leukemia and we needed to go straight to the emergency room at Children’s Medical Center in Downtown Dallas.
Within 24 hours of arriving to Children’s Hospital, Ashley was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). The doctors requested treatment to begin immediately, and thus Ashley’s recovery began. She had an operation to install a port in her chest (we call it her special button) allowing for easier access for blood draws, receiving chemotherapy and fluids or blood. The first 30 days of treatment were pretty intense, including multiple forms of chemo, weekly spinal taps, bone marrow evaluations and hair loss. On October 22, 2007, after Ashley’s first month of intense chemo, her bone marrow results showed zero cancer in her body. We give all the praise to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for this. What an answer to our prayers. The next 6 months were additional phases of chemo, the final 2 months of which were the most intense.
In March 2008 Ashley graduated to a Maintenance Program. During this time she still continued a rigorous schedule of daily chemotherapy, but with less intensity. In addition, her hospital visits went from weekly to every four weeks, with a spinal tap every 12 weeks. Ashley still had to be careful to not get sick because her immune system fluctuated daily. Unlike most kids who just stay home when they are sick, Ashley could require a stay at the hospital for several days if her immune system was compromised.
Ashley completed her Maintenance Program on November 21, 2009. God is so great and we are so thankful for the treatment program our doctors made available. For the next two years Ashley continued to visit the hospital every 4 weeks for lab work and physicals to keep a close eye on her as her body recovered from 2+ years of chemo.
In January of 2012, Ashley reached an incredible milestone. Ashley’s doctors approved her to graduate to the ACE (After the Cancer Experience) at Children’s Medical Center. Her visits are now every three months and will eventually become annual.
To look at Ashley now you would not know that she fought cancer. We love to call her our warrior princess. Her hair is back and gorgeous, thick and wavy. Now age 9, she loves school, especially Math & Science, and is in the 4th grade. She has recently found a new love, basketball. She is a great big sister to her younger sister Emily who is 6 years old. Playing house, reading, swimming, listening to music and dancing are some of their favorite things to do together. Ashley loves animals and when she grows up she wants to become an Otter Keeper.
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