We have just spent another lovely evening with the amazing group of MWOY team and candidates. And what an amazing group of candidates it is! This is Kathleen, Maeve’s mom, writing on behalf of Maeve and our family. We are honored to be a part of the campaign this year and feel so grateful to be able to help in any way. This is a cause that is near and dear to us for obvious reasons. If you would have told me 3 years ago that I was going to be personally involved with LLS and the MWOY campaign due to my daughter’s ALL diagnosis, I wouldn’t have believed it. This is the kind of thing you hear about, not experience. The kind of thing you read about and think, wow, that poor family. When that family became us, our lives were changed forever.
I will never forget the day Maeve was diagnosed with Leukemia. It is so fresh in my mind and goes down as one of those days you re-play over and over in your head. I had felt two enlarged lymph nodes in the back of Maeve’s head while I was brushing her hair one day and immediately got a terrible feeling. Over the next couple of weeks I had been on the phone with her doctor’s office and taken her in to be seen twice. Even though I had this sinking feeling, I still made excuses for her behavior. I kept telling myself that she wanted me to carry her all the time because she was jealous of her new baby sister. And that she wouldn’t participate in her gymnastics class because she just wasn’t a very physical kid. Looking back, there were many more signs that something was really wrong, but you aren’t supposed to jump to those conclusions. What are the chances your child will be the one who is diagnosed with cancer at age 2?
I didn’t want to put Maeve through the agony of a blood draw. Her doctor had thrown out several possible problems….anemia and mono to name a few. I had Leukemia in the back of my mind, but I didn’t really consider it. Up to that point, Maeve had been the healthiest child I knew. She never had a single prescription and had basically never been sick. We eventually did the blood work and when our pediatrician called with the initial results we were instructed to go directly to the Pediatric ER. They got us right in and Brian met me, Maeve and our infant daughter, Nuala at the hospital. Maeve looked so tiny and pale in that enormous hospital bed. She almost seemed relieved to be there, as if finally she was going to get help. When the ER physician came into the room to give us the rest of the blood work it was like an out of body experience. All these words were flying around the room……blasts, hemoglobin, platelets, oncologist. I was experiencing my nightmare and even yelled at the doctor to stop talking so these awful words would stop coming out of her mouth. Within minutes, we met Maeve’s oncologist and were transferred to a room in the ICU since Maeve was too sick to be admitted to the regular oncology floor. We later found out that her bone marrow was 98% leukemia cells.
The next 2 days were a blur of IV’s, blood draws, port placement, bone marrow biopsies, spinal taps, multiple medications, a special diet and of course, chemo. The greatest piece of news we got after about 24 hours was that Maeve had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) – otherwise known as the “good kind” of leukemia. We knew that ALL had a very positive cure rate and we were relieved to get this diagnosis. I still spent every night in the hospital crying in the hall or the bathroom so Maeve couldn’t hear me, knowing this was going to be an uphill battle and that my sweet 2 year old baby was going to go through so much pain and agony over the next 2 ½ years. And to me, if the cure rate wasn’t 100%, I was still terrified.
Seeing Maeve run around with so much energy tonight at the Kickoff party brought mixed emotions. On one hand, I wanted to see her quietly respecting the program and listening as the intros were made. On the other hand I couldn’t help but think – THIS is your inspiration right here! There were more times than not during Maeve’s treatment that we wished she could walk up the stairs or across the room or get up off the couch and act like a “normal” kid. Seeing her running and jumping around makes me so happy and realize how far she has come. To think that parents in our same situation not that long ago would have no choice but to lose their child to leukemia makes me so very sad and yet so very grateful. I came across this astounding statistic recently on the LLS website: “In 1964, the five-year survival rate for children with ALL was 3%. Today it is approximately 90%”. Saying we are thankful for your participation in the MWOY campaign is such an understatement! There are way too many of us out there who have a personal connection to Leukemia or Lymphoma. More money means more research and more hope for families like us. Anyone who has helped a loved one get through treatment know that “hope” is priceless.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your dedication and your time commitment to the campaign. Best of luck to all of you as you begin this journey. We will be checking back in hopes that you can learn more about Maeve and her story.