30 DAYS/30 STORIES® 2023
On June 18, 2022, while playing in a softball tournament with my travel team, I scraped my knee which quickly became infected. I went to the hospital where I was initially treated for cellulitis and was put on antibiotics. I had two additional blood tests over the next week which were abnormal. After speaking to my physician, we were advised to consult with a pediatric hematologist at St. Christopher’s in Philadelphia. While on vacation at the Jersey Shore, my family and I headed to Philadelphia to have bloodwork taken and examined by a hematologist. We then headed back to the beach suspecting my bloodwork was only abnormal due to my body recovering from the cellulitis. Later that afternoon while sitting on the beach, the doctor called us to discuss the results. My mom answered the call and as time went on and fear grew in her eyes, my heart sank to my stomach. My blood work showed “blasts” which were indicative of leukemia but to confirm, a bone marrow biopsy would need to be completed. From that point on, I remembered everything so vividly. It became my worst nightmare.
I was instructed to come back to St. Christopher’s the next day to talk with the pediatric oncology team and have a bone marrow biopsy. The news I received that day changed my life forever. Never would I have thought waking up that morning that my life would be flipped upside down and the next year would be nothing but hospital visits, staying home from school, and feeling like crap. But that’s what happened.
My family and I made the decision to transfer to Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, where I was officially diagnosed on July 1, 2022, with T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia. I was hospitalized for the first month of chemotherapy treatment. The doctors said the goal was to eradicate the leukemia from my bone marrow and get to clinical remission in the first 29 days.
The following days and month seemed like a blur. The surgery for my port, the multiple transfusions and at times reactions to those transfusions were difficult to comprehend at 15 years old. I had a tremendous amount of support and prayers, people wanting to come and visit, and gifts sent to the hospital for me. While I now look back at it all, and appreciate it very much, I couldn’t help but feel completely zoned out at the time.
On August 5th, 29 days after being diagnosed, I made it. The results of the bone marrow biopsy came back from Johns Hopkins and indicated that I was in clinical remission. I still continue to battle every day. Some days are better than others and there have been bumps in the road throughout. I still have a little over a year left of treatment to battle this cancer but have no doubts that I will beat it.
I have returned to school for my Junior year and am looking forward to getting back on the softball field very soon. I now have a completely different outlook on life…not taking anything for granted and always wanting to learn more so I can be the best I can be in whatever I do.
PCFLV has helped us through many of the emotional moments that we faced when receiving my diagnosis, and they have been there to support us on many levels throughout our journey. My family and I cannot express how grateful we are for the continued prayers, love and support from our family, friends, Pediatric Oncology team at Lehigh Valley, PCFLV, and our entire community. I am strong, focused and determined to beat this. # AVASARMY
Written by Ava
Please consider helping children with cancer and others in our community by scheduling a blood donation at Miller-Keystone Blood Center: https://donor.giveapint.org/donor/schedules/zip