My name is Lori Timko and my first daughter Ava is an acute myeloid leukemia (AML) survivor! It started in 2009 when she had become sick and the doctors discovered her blood counts were suppressed. We continued the lab work for a couple weeks but her counts were not recovering. Then, during one of our doctor visits, they told us they were beginning to see abnormal blast cells and thought Ava should have a bone marrow biopsy. We spent Christmas and New Year's Day at home that year because the doctors were telling us she was sick, but we just saw our baby crawling around and getting into everything like nothing was wrong. I definitely was not thinking our little girl had cancer -- no way! With cancer you are sick in a bed, not crawling around and playing with toys.
Well on January 2, just four days before her first birthday, we went in for her bone marrow biopsy at Akron Children's Hospital. We were released to go home that afternoon and didn't think we would get any results the same day. Well that day quickly became the worst of my life. The doctor called and said Ava had AML and we had to be admitted that night. Ava had her first of many surgeries the next day and was taken by life flight to Cincinnati Children's Hospital, which was close by and had some of the best doctors around for AML. We were told she had a 50/50 chance of survival. Ava had to complete five rounds of chemotherapy, each lasting between one and two months. She also took part in a clinical trial of gemtuzumab, an antibody drug conjugate that seemed promising. After the first round, we got the news that she was in remission. However, she would still need to complete four more rounds. She fought her way through severe diaper rash, vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) and adenovirus infection when her counts bottomed out, but thankfully she had very few serious complications.
Ava is currently doing very well and is now in first grade. She loves animals and takes riding lessons on her pony. As a family we live every day to its fullest and try to give back in every way possible to help raise money and awareness to find the cure that so many need. So many others don't have the same outcome as Ava but they should!