Lucy’s making the most of her second chance at life
Besides becoming a kindergarten super reader, 7-year-old Lucy likes doing ballet, riding her bike and creating lots of “inventions”.
“Lucy just likes being around people, especially younger kids,” said her mom, Anne. “She has a great sense of humor and loves to make people laugh.”
Unfortunately, life hasn’t always been so carefree for Lucy. When Lucy was just 6 months old, she came down with a high fever that was initially suspected to be caused by a bladder infection. The fever persisted and eventually Lucy developed nodules in her skin that were later found to contain leukemia cells. Lucy’s diagnosis was acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Soon after diagnosis, Anne moved with Lucy to Ann Arbor, 30 minutes from their home, to begin treatment at the University of Michigan. After her first round of chemotherapy, Lucy was tested and they learned she was cancer-free; however additional testing a few months later showed the cancer had returned. Lucy’s doctor determined she would need a blood stem cell transplant to save her life.
Simon, Lucy’s older brother, was initially tested when he was 4 years old and was determined not to be a match. When asked about the possibility of sharing blood with his sister, Simon said, “Ok mom, but I don’t want to give all my blood.” This was a moment of levity that the family remembers fondly.
Luckily, two additional partial genetic matches were identified as well as an option for an umbilical cord blood transplant. After prayer, and counsel from Lucy’s care team, it was decided that a cord blood transplant was the best option. Everything went smoothly on transplant day, but Lucy experienced acute graft-versus-host disease and spent 50 days in the hospital (220 days total) recovering.
“Lucy was the sickest she had been during those 50 days after transplant,” said Anne. “This was a really difficult time for our family, I asked myself ‘Will she ever be well enough for us to leave—will it always be like this?’"
Today Lucy is happy and healthy and she’s excited to practice riding her bike without training wheels.
“Looking back, the whole experience felt so surreal,” said Anne. “We have so much to be thankful for, we celebrate every milestone, big and small.” This May, Lucy’s family will celebrate her 7-year transplant anniversary.
Anne and her husband Philip felt it was important for Lucy to participate in clinical trials and they’re strong advocates for increased funding of cancer research. Extremely grateful for Lucy’s outcome, they’re always looking for opportunities to give back to other patients and families.