21 Months Old at Diagnosis
21-month-old Margo Miller hadn’t been herself for weeks. She had a fever on and off, was cranky at daycare, and wasn’t eating well. Her mother, Gina, took her to their pediatrician to see what could be causing her behavior.
Her pediatrician couldn’t find anything that could be causing her pain, but suggested that Gina bring Margo back on Monday so that they could run some additional tests. They went home and tried to enjoy a normal weekend.
On Monday, Gina and Margo headed back to the pediatrician, where her they noticed red dots on her legs. Gina was told that Margo had to have a blood test done immediately. Once the blood work came back, their pediatrician told them news that they never hoped to hear, Margo had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
They headed to St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis immediately, where Margo was admitted and started her cancer journey. Margo’s original treatment protocol involved 1 year of high-dose chemotherapy followed by 2 years of maintenance chemotherapy.
The family settled into their new normal, finding ways to make hospital visits fun for Margo and keep life as normal as possible. Gina looked for an organization to get involved in, and found CureSearch’s Ultimate Hike. While Margo underwent treatment, Gina trained for her first Ultimate Hike. She completed the Ultimate Hike Tecumseh Trail in October of 2013!
Just 19 months into treatment, Margo’s doctors found out that her leukemia had returned. Because she relapsed while she was still in treatment, her options weren’t clear. Her doctors decided that a bone marrow transplant was the best course, and started Margo on intense chemotherapy in an effort to get her into remission.
Unfortunately, Margo’s cancer had become resistant to the chemotherapy and her doctors were unable to rid her body of the leukemia, preventing her from receiving a bone marrow transplant.
After much deliberation, Gina and Margo’s doctors decided that a clinical trial at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was the best option. In this clinical trial, Margo’s t-cells are taken from her blood, and genetically modified to attack her cancer cells. Margo’s doctors hope that this treatment will get her into remission before her bone marrow transplant.
While Margo battles leukemia again, Gina is taking the ultimate challenge again at the Ultimate Hike Tecumseh this October.
In April, 2014, Margo and her family headed to Philadelphia to begin the clinical trial. So far the treatment has gone well and Margo’s family is looking forward to a cancer free future.