Our journey began when we took Bridget (3yrs old) to the Laporte Hospital ER, because of back and stomach pain. She had fallen the Monday before and didn't walk for two days because of leg pain. By Thursday she was walking, but occasionally complaining of back pain. In between complaints she played normally, and seemed fine. Saturday she came to me crying her back and stomach hurt. We prayerfully considered taking her to the ER, even though we knew it would be an unpleasant experience.
At LaPorte Hospital they did a CAT scan and a blood count. The head scan came back clear, but the blood count showed low hemoglobin and white blood cell count which could indicate internal bleeding. So, in conference with the pediatric trauma specialist at South Bend Memorial, they decided to do a complete body scan, which showed no bleeding.
We were then transferred to South Bend Children's Memorial via ambulance, where we stayed Saturday and Sunday.
On Monday morning Dr. Griffin, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist came in to speak with us. Of course just the word oncologist made my heart sink. He explained that nothing showed up on the blood smears they took, so Bridget's low blood count could be the result of a virus her body was fighting.
We could go home and come back in a few days for another blood draw to see if her counts came up, or he could do a bone marrow biopsy to rule out other problems. We chose the biopsy, since I knew once we took her home, getting her back for a blood draw would not be easy.
Dr. Griffin could not extract marrow from Bridget's bones because she was so packed with Leukemia. The nurse called us in a conference room where Dr. Griffin told us Bridget had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. We were discharged from South Bend Memorial with an appointment the next morning with Dr. James Nachman at the University of Chicago.
I remember being afraid to leave the hospital that night, knowing our life had changed forever.
Our faith in God and the support we have from family, friends and our community has been our source of strength.
Bridget is now 5 yrs old. She is responding well to treatment. She takes daily chemo pills at home and we go to the clinic once a month for chemo in her port and antibody infusions to help fight infections. Every 81 days she receives intrathecal chemo through a spinal tap. Her end of treatment date is November 2011!
Bridget is the youngest of 6 children. She is our inspiration.
We are thankful to the NICK foundation for reaching out to us in support and for giving us the opportunity to be a source of support for others.