30 DAYS/30 STORIES® 2020
October 23, 2019 was an ordinary day for our family. I got both our daughters ready for school and dropped them off. It was an early dismissal that day, and our 13-year-old daughter Makayla wanted to have her friend over after school. I remember picking them up from school. They were talking about what happened that day, laughing, and being normal teenagers. It felt like a very ordinary day…until I got the call from her family doctor that would change our lives forever. Makayla was not feeling well for a month. She was having persistent low-grade fevers, swollen lymph nodes, night sweats, and feeling like she was going to pass out. I saw my phone ringing, and knew it was her doctor calling with her blood test results. “I’m very concerned about what her blood test is showing. There are several alarming values, and I am recommending you go to the ER.” Less than 24 hours later, our daughter was diagnosed with B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital.
In the beginning, as parents seeing your child go through the hardest thing a person, let alone a child with cancer, has to deal with is a nightmare. As soon as you hear the word leukemia, you feel like your life will never be the same. It tears you apart. You no longer have control of protecting your child…something a parent instinctually strives for. When you are constantly in and out of the hospital, you begin to lean on others for support and comfort because you physically and mentally do not have the energy to think of the little things in life that were taken for granted as being easy.
What we did not know is that there are many people and resources dedicated to helping you get through this difficult time. I cannot say it enough…how grateful we are to have our family, friends, doctors, nurses, social workers and PCFLV in our lives for this support! We never could have imagined the amount of love and compassion that everyone in our lives, including strangers we never met, had for our situation. PCFLV was one of the first organizations that we learned could help in this time of need. They are a fantastic organization that helped us by providing gift cards to the cafeteria while we were there during many hospital stays, gift cards for both Makayla and our younger daughter Bryn to put a smile on their faces, gas cards to help with traveling expenses, coffee for parents while either inpatient or at clinic, and support groups with other cancer parents.
Makayla has had a lot of bumps in the road during her treatment so far, which is a 2-3 year long journey. She has had 2 blood stream infections, 4 large intussusceptions which required surgery while she was also septic, multiple syncope episodes, with one requiring a hospital stay because she fell, and multiple kidney stones. Through all the many hurdles during treatment she has stayed strong, resilient, and unbelievably brave. Seeing all of the other children who are fighting cancer is something very difficult, but at the same time revealing and comforting to see how truly amazingly strong they can be. We have made new friendships that will last a lifetime with other families and individuals who we have met along the way.
Please help support PCFLV to continue to help families like ours and countless others. Taking the littlest burden off parents who are fighting for their children daily is huge. Through the darkness, there is light, faith, and hope in being cured.
Written by her mom, Brennan