pre-B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
I was diagnosed at two and a half years old in December 2003 at Valley Children’s Hospital. Some early symptoms that I had were paleness, unexplained fevers, and extreme fatigue. My babysitter noticed my naps were getting longer and longer as the days passed, and I was taken to my pediatrician because of the previously mentioned symptoms. I was diagnosed with pre-B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (pre-B ALL). My length of treatment lasted three years and two months. I had oral, intramuscular, intrathecal, and IV chemotherapy over the course of the entire treatment. In addition, I had three chemo port surgeries, multiple spinal taps, multiple bone marrow biopsies, and many inpatient stays at Valley Children’s.
There was a huge impact on my childhood experiences. It affected my fine motor skills which led to me taking extra time during my school day to write out my homework because it was difficult to hold a pencil. It affected the nerves in my legs which led to difficulty performing any physical activity. It affected my cognition which made it difficult to retain information, and I always felt that I had to put in twice the amount of work compared to my peers. I remember always laying in the hospital beds during my nights at the hospital and playing the portable video games they offered us patients. Being so young, this was the “norm” for me because I didn’t understand what was going on around me. This continued throughout my days of treatment, and I thought that receiving treatment and living in hospitals was something every kid goes through. Looking back, I’m grateful that I was too young to remember the hardships that cancer caused and that Valley Children’s did an amazing job at making their hospitals kid-friendly! I became cancer-free on day 13 of my treatment which coincidentally occurred on Christmas Eve. Luckily, I have been in remission since, and this Christmas Eve I will be celebrating 20 years of being cancer-free. Being only two and a half, I don’t have any specific memories, but this is one of the most important days of my life that I celebrate every year.