My daughter Makenzie was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in January 2013, when she was just four years old. She had no signs or symptoms of leukemia. One day, Makenzie had a sore throat and we made an appointment with her pediatrician. Turns out she did have strep throat, but an exam also revealed her spleen was very enlarged. At that point, her pediatrician did bloodwork and learned that Makenzie's white cell count was through the roof. We were sent to Texas Children’s Hospital where later that evening she was diagnosed with CML. We were informed there was no cure but it was treatable. So to this day, in our home, we always say “Thank God for strep throat.” If it wasn’t for that appointment and her awesome pediatrician, Makenzie may not have bounced back or the results might not have been the same.
This news all came as a huge shock to our family. How could our healthy, full-of-energy little girl have leukemia? It was very hard to take it all in, as for anyone. It had a huge impact on our family and our daily lives and left a lot of “what if's?"
Makenzie is now 6 and in kindergarten and loves to dance, sing, do cheerleading, ride her bike, roller skate and just be outdoors. We recently took a trip to Colorado and learned that she is a natural at ice skating, so we may be on to something there now too!
Currently, Makenzie takes a pill form of chemo each evening and this treatment has been working very well for her. We have gone from weekly appointments to biweekly to monthly and now we are going once a quarter. Today, there is less than 1% of leukemia detected in her blood and she is considered in molecular remission.
CML is very rare in children as it typically occurs in older adults. Although Makenzie’s leukemia is being maintained by this drug, there are still a lot of unknowns ahead of us. So this is where The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) comes into play and the funds received can help with breakthroughs on research. Makenzie’s current treatment is a testament of that. We want to thank LLS for funding blood cancer research and thanks to everyone who supports and gives to this wonderful organization.