10 Years Old at Diagnosis
Anna was an active and perfectly healthy 10 year old girl right up to the day she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML M1 and flt3+). We went to the doctor due to off and on fevers and were sure that she had lingering infections from a cut on her toe or possibly strep throat. On May 6, 2011 her life took a huge detour and she began the fight of her life, to win the battle over this horrible disease.
Anna went through months of chemotherapy at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. She fought hard during this time, never complaining, and always smiling. She had an amazing faith in God and knew that “God had big plans for her.” Anna was known to have surprise water fights with her nurses and most all visitors. She truly made the best out of a very scary situation. Later, we learned that in order for her to survive she would need a bone marrow transplant. We did not have a sibling match for her so we turned to the National Bone Marrow Registry. She was blessed to have a perfect 10/10 match.
Anna received her BMT on Sept. 27, 2011 at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. She was there for about 4 months, away from home, her friends, and her family. The transplant recovery process can be extremely difficult. She did well with only one major setback. Anna went blind, lost cognitive abilities, and did not know her surroundings. She was diagnosed with PRES syndrome which was due to a reaction to one of her immunosuppressant medications. Thankfully, the symptoms were reversible and within a week her eyesight returned. All other symptoms got better as well.
Anna is currently 9 months post BMT, in remission, and continues to get stronger every day. She continues to battle some post transplant side effects but does so with an amazing attitude!!! Anna is a fighter and an inspiration to so many people. She became like a “big sister” to many of the younger patients and found so much joy in giving them things to make them smile. Through her own pain she continued to reach out to those around her. She has learned to never take anything for granted and finds the blessings in each and every day.
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