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30 DAYS/30 STORIES® 2022


September 22nd


September is always an interesting time of the year for me now, ever since 2009. Life was normal…. dad, mom, a few crazy kids, you know nothing too out of the ordinary. In December 2006 our blended family of six added one more to the mix, Abigail (Abby). Abby was born with Down syndrome, which was a learning curve but was manageable. It wasn’t until two years later in December 2008 when things started to get unusual with Abby. She would cry when we put her down to walk and at her two-year check-up, she had a petechial rash on her body. The doctor sent us for lab work and her platelet count was low. I had already suspected what they were looking for because in the reading I had done on Down syndrome, leukemia seemed to be somewhat prevalent. After a visit to the hematologist and a bone marrow biopsy, it was confirmed that she had ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia).

Life went from our normal crazy to what the holy hell crazy in what seemed like a blink of an eye. She began her treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and transferred back up to LVH after her first month of inpatient treatment. She spent 800 days receiving treatment for her leukemia. Those 800 days consisted of multiple doctor appointments, inpatient stays for fevers and other complications, bone marrow biopsies, bloodwork, physical therapy, occupational therapy, you name it almost any type of specialist was on her resume. And at the end of the 800 days, she was in remission, now go live your life.

Flash forward to where we are today, 11 years later. She was two years old when she began her cancer journey. She’s now 15 and a freshman in high school. In some respects, it seems like a lifetime ago that all of that happened. And for the most part now, it really is a past memory of another time in our life. Abby is thriving and driving her dad and I insane with all the teenage moodiness. Abby does have some residual issues like some mild neuropathy in her legs that we still deal with off and on but for the most part, she’s doing well.

After Abby’s diagnosis, the clinic staff put us in touch with Nicole, the head of PCFLV at that time. We began attending all types of events that PCFLV offered. And Nicole even obtained an Abby Cadabby costume, which our Abby just loved. And through this new connection, we have had the pleasure of meeting new families, seeing familiar people, and coming together through PCFLV. We have participated in the gala when we lived closer and have been kept up to date on kids we knew. One thing that is amazing about PCFLV is how they have something for families in all stages of the cancer journey, those just starting out in early diagnosis and treatment, to survivorship, and unfortunately those who are dealing with grieving. And it’s not just the child who has the diagnosis, but they are there for the entire family, parents and siblings included.

While the staff may have changed over the years, one constant has stayed the same, their focus on families, families like ours who were just average typical families until the moment we’re not because of pediatric cancer.

We still stay in touch with a lot of them and follow the PCFLV Facebook page. And I see the kids we were in treatment with at the same time growing up, and it just blows my mind some days at how far these kids have come after all they have been through. It’s such an inspiration to see the kids who have grown up and their siblings as well who are getting scholarships to go into pediatric cancer field in some capacity. And I think about how others see these kids and will never know just how truly strong they are and all they have overcome in their short lives. They’re amazing. I’m thankful for these relationships. Even though we have moved away from the area, we still think of you all as family.

On a final note, to the families still fighting, you’re not alone. There is always someone to lend an ear or shoulder if needed. To those whose children are out of treatment and doing well, congratulations you made it! And to those parents whose children were taken way too soon, we send you strength to keep going.

Written by Abby’s mom, Sherri

Please consider helping children with cancer and others in our community by scheduling a blood donation at Miller-Keystone Blood Center:

If you would like to donate in Abby's honor

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