8 Years Old at Diagnosis
When Caitlyn was just 8 years old she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Her family was devastated. They were told that they had to begin aggressive treatment immediately. They weren’t sure how long the treatment would last, but knew that they had to begin fighting right away.
Her doctors began her first round of chemotherapy, but Caitlyn became septic and had a very low blood pressure. Her parents were worried she wouldn’t make it. Luckily, she recovered quickly and was able to continue treatment. Caitlyn didn’t respond well to chemotherapy. Her body had a hard time recovering after every dose. She started experiencing issues with her kidneys as well as many other side effects.
She developed Veno Occlusive Disease which caused her liver to shut down and effected her kidneys and other organs. Luckily Caitlyn was able to take an experimental drug called Defibritide which helped and she was able to go back on chemotherapy.
On July1, 2012, Caitlyn took her last dose of chemotherapy. The family celebrated and tried to return to normal life. “The further we got out from treatment the easier we could breathe,” explain Caitlyn’s mom Melinda.
At their clinic appointment in July of 2013, doctors discovered that her cancer had returned. She had a mutation, and the best chance for survival would be a bone marrow transplant.
The family traveled to Motts Children’s Hospital for the final prep before receiving a bone marrow transplant. Her doctors were concerned because of how she had reacted to chemotherapy in the past. She had two days of total body radiation, and then a successful bone marrow transplant on October 24th.
On November 4th, her doctors noticed that her abdomen was distended. She had developed the Veno Occlusive Disease again. They started the process of getting her on the life-saving medication that had helped her so much before, but the drug manufacturers said no.
Her doctors had to sedate her because her body was working so hard to recover from the bone marrow transplant and fight off the disease. Doctors were able to give her the medication she so desperately needed, but her body didn’t respond the way they had hoped. It was negatively affecting the rest of her organs, causing her to bleed internally. They had to stop the drug and were able to get the bleeding under control, but there wasn’t much else they could do.
On November 9, 2013, her family decided that it was time to let her go. “We knew that there was nothing more we could do,” Melinda explains. “She was fighting so hard, but her body just couldn’t handle it any more.”
At 10:21 that night, she took her last breath surrounded by her loving family.
Throughout her treatment, Caitlyn was passionate about the CureSearch Walk and her family and friends wanted to continue that tradition in her memory. They have participated every year and done everything they can to help CureSearch.
You too can help families like Caitlyn’s by joining your local CureSearch Walk. To sign up for a CureSearch Walk near you, visit www.CureSearchWalk.org.
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