The Story

Kate...5 days before diagnosis.
Kate…5 days before diagnosis.

Most folks reading this blog already know the story about how Kate’s leukemia was diagnosed. But for the sake of posterity or whatever you want to call it, I’ll share it again here.

Sometime in the month of July 2013, we started noticing that Kate was bruising a whole lot. She is an active little girl but hasn’t ever been much of a daredevil or a climber.  She’s the one who will walk AROUND the balance beam at Gymboree classes; not over it.  She’s goofy & silly…but careful.

I found myself looking at other kids and checking out their arms and legs.  All her peers’ appendages seemed to be absent of the tiny little finger-tip bruises that seemed to be everywhere on Kate.  After a bit of time on Google and WebMD, we decided she probably had anemia (afterall, the girl does NOT subscribe to the idea of healthy eating and has yet to meet a green, leafy vegetable that she likes.)  We took Kate in for bloodwork on August 14th with her pediatrician.  (Sidebar: I remember thinking that if she was anemic and we had to sneak in iron drops into her food that it would be the WORST THING EVER due to how awful those things taste.  Interesting how “bad” I thought we had it.)

August 15th started out as normal as it could have, with Mike & I heading off to work and Grandma coming over to be with Kate.  The plan was for her to attend Story Time at the Library, which Kate loved.  The day ended anything but normal.  I got the call at 9:52am.  Our pediatrician said that Kate’s bloodwork had already come back and that her white blood cell count was extremely high.  Mike & I needed to get her to Fairfax Hospital immediately; a room was waiting and they suspected leukemia.

I don’t remember much after that save for the tremendous amount of pain in my chest and the fact that breathing felt like trying to inhale shards of ice or broken glass.  I know I called Mike because he came over to get me.  I know I called my Mom because I remember the fear in her voice.  Somehow we made it to the hospital and met my mom & Kate there.  The second my Katie walked in, I knew immediately how sick she really was.  Why hadn’t I seen how pale she had become?  Why hadn’t I noticed that her usually bright pink lips were anything BUT bright and pink?  Why hadn’t I noticed that her shiny blond hair had gone somewhat…dull?

We were taken into the pediatric ER where they did a whole bunch of tests to confirm what we seemingly already knew.  By that night, we were admitted, preparing for surgery the next day to place her port-a-cath and for a bone marrow biopsy and spinal tap that would tell us just how far the leukemia had gone.  We took the ride upstairs to Room 510…located right across from the nurses’ station.  I learned later that they put a lot of newly diagnosed patients there because of the intensity of the induction phase.  I didn’t know that then, and I certainly didn’t know what induction meant.

Kate had leukemia.  That’s what we knew.  I remember crying and fear.  Numbing and seemingly blinding fear.  But I also remember knowing in the very depth of every bone I had that we, as a family, would stop at NOTHING to do every single thing we could for Kate.

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