Leukemia has signs and symptoms that are often related to the common cold and onset is more common among boys, ages 3-5.
Ashton started coughing a few months ago, got a massive ear infection, sinus infection and became lethargic, less social at school, and began to appear pale. He was diagnosed with croup March 19 and intermittently ran a fever hovering around 100-101 degrees. He then suddenly developed very swollen, bleeding gums. He did not respond to two consecutive rounds of antibiotics. The onset of the disease can either be slow and insidious or very rapid. Ashton’s symptoms were very rapid and aggressive. Based on the combination of these symptoms, we went to four different doctors. The last emergency room on March 30 was Dayton Children’s Hospital. The doctor there did a blood test instantly and Ashton was diagnosed, within an hour, of Leukemia and immediately admitted to the Oncology unit, as a cancer patient..
Ashton has been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, or AML, Type 1.
The first night he received two blood transfusions and a platelet transfusion. We learned that a normal white blood cell count is 5000-10,000; Ashton was admitted with a count of 55,000. A normal platelet count is 140,000 – 4440,00; Ashton had a count of 10,000. Normal hemoglobin is 11.5 and Ashton had 5.5. We have also learned that stages do not exist in leukemia because it lives in your entire blood stream.The following day (day 2), he had color back in his face and was sitting up and playing due to receiving those transfusions. Also, on day 2, he endured a bone marrow aspiration (Uncle Ryan was there with us) and by the end of the same day he was running a fever of 105 degrees which went away with a fever reducer.
Ashton will be getting 6 to 8 months of chemotherapy instead of the feared 39 months. Initially, he will receive ten days of chemotherapy beginning April 1(day 3) with a one-week break before resuming therapy. Along with the first dose of chemo on April 1st, Ashton is getting a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to make sure the AML has not spread to the spine or brain. Additionally, Ashton is getting a Hickman Subcutaneous port implanted where he will receive the medicine.
Ashton is also participating in a clinical trial through Children’s Oncology Group (COG), which is an international research group.
The rate for a cure is 50-65%. The remission rate is 90%, which includes a 5 year term of remission.
I would like to add that Ashton has been very brave with his IV, having blood drawn several times a day, and having no real idea about why he is here. He was so excited when his Nonni, Grandma Penny, Auntie Jen, and Great Aunt Donna came to be with him with lots of presents.
Ashton’s ordeal is a constant reminder to hold your babies close and laugh with them with every chance you get, because when that smile starts to sway, it is the most gut-wrenching feeling one could ever endure. He is such a brave little boy and it is that bravery that will get us all through this. We feel all your prayers every day and we know we will prevail because of them.