Our youngest child, Madeline, was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) in January 2009, four days beforeher 14th birthday. Her symptoms included night sweats, blurry vision, and huge bruises on her legs. A concerned danceteacher suggested a trip to the pediatrician. Instead of the anemia I was expecting, blood tests showed that Madeline'swhite blood cell count was 475,000 when it should be less than 10,000. She was admitted to Children’s Healthcare forimmediate treatment. She spent 10 days in the hospital, most of that in the PICU for blood treatment and chemotherapy.What makes Madeline's leukemia different is that there is no cure. She takes a pill called Gleevec every day to inhibit theoverproduction of white blood cells. She will take this miracle drug every day for the rest of her life.
The Gleevec is not without its side effects, the most notable of which is stomach aches. Some days are good, some arebad, and most days are somewhere in between. Last week, Madeline woke up and it was clearly a bad day. Despitefeeling crummy, she went to school where she is an honor student in the 11th grade. After school she headed to the balletstudio for three hours of dance, then home for dinner and several hours of homework. The next day she got up and did itall over again. She rarely complains; it simply is what it is. She has the usual concerns of a teenage girl: "Did I pass myPhysics test? Will anyone ask me to Prom? Will I get into the college of my choice?" She also has concerns unique to hercondition: "When do I tell someone I'm dating about my disease? Can I have kids and if I can, should I? What if I am laidoff from my job and lose my insurance?"
With all of that being said, we are so very fortunate to have Madeline with us despite the side effects of her meds andthe uncertainties in her future. Not all children have such a positive prognosis. Children’s cancers are different fromadult cancers and are vastly underfunded. I am running the Disney Half Marathon in January for Madeline's happily-ever-after as well as the happily-ever-after of the 46 children diagnosed with cancer every day. Please help us in our fight toeliminate childhood cancer.