Elizabeth is 2 years old. She has been fighting acute lymphoblastic leukemia since age 1.
Elizabeth's parents, both professionals in the medical field, are no strangers to a medical crises. But they never expected one to hit so close to home.
Last summer, their little blonde daughter, not even 2 years old, ran a fever off and on for weeks. They took her to the pediatrician, but it always seemed to be just a virus. Then, Elizabeth started bruising heavily. When she developed petechiae that spread down her legs, her mother realized what it could mean. It could mean leukemia.
Another visit to the pediatrician and a complete blood count confirmed her family's fears: Elizabeth suffered from acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of blood cancer. Her mother's thoughts raced. “I thought, is this the last time I’m going to see her? Is she going to die?”
Elizabeth's doctor immediately referred her to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. St. Jude has increased the survival rates for Elizabeth's type of leukemia from 4 percent before opening in 1962 to 94 percent today — the world’s best.
By the time Elizabeth arrived at St. Jude just eight hours later, her white count had already doubled. “She probably would have been dead in 72 hours,” says her mother.
St. Jude doctors quickly brought the cancer under control with chemotherapy. Now about a year into treatment, Elizabeth has responded well. Her cancer is in remission, but she still has to undergo another year-and-a-half of chemotherapy to be sure the cancer doesn’t return.
Being so familiar with hospital environments from their work in medicine, Elizabeth’s parents have been amazed by the upbeat and child-friendly atmosphere at St. Jude. “People here at St. Jude love their jobs, and they’re great with the kids,” says Elizabeth’s mom. “And that makes it so much easier to be here.”
Elizabeth’s mom is grateful for her daughter’s progress — and grateful her family will never see a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food. Thanks to people who donate to St. Jude, she says, “Children who were never going to have a chance in life now have a chance. Your money is being put to good use.”
Elizabeth is a tough and independent little girl with a bright future ahead.
To help give hope to children such as Elizabeth who are fighting life-threatening illnesses, please become a Partner In Hope monthly donor.