Honored Kid

Andrea Anderson

Age 20
Andrea Anderson Kid Photo

Location

Havre de Grace , MD, US

Diagnosis

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)

Date of Diagnosis

February 2018

Status

In remission

Treated At

Johns Hopkins Children's Center

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My Story

Andrea’s story: Andrea was a healthy and active 18 year old girl who graduated from Havre de Grace High school in June of 2017. Andrea enjoyed hunting, fishing, riding 4wheelers and taking her black lab Penn to the State Park for walks. She worked at Hopkins Produce and at Food Lion in Perryville. She also stayed busy babysitting the neighbors 3 little girls, who she adored. She had just started taking classes at Harford Community College. Life as a teenager was going good. That all changed rather quickly when Andrea became ill on a Friday night. We thought she had the flu so we took her the next morning to the doctors to get checked out. She tested negative for the flu and was sent home. The next day she had terrible pain in her abdomen and we feared appendicitis. We took her to our local ER where they did blood work and a CT scan of her belly. They were alarmed by her white cell count and arranged for us to meet with a specialist at the end of the week. They also told us that they could see colitis on the CT scan. We were sent home with pain meds to help with the colitis and told to follow up the following Friday with the specialist. I was walking out the door for work on Wednesday morning when the phone rang. I was in a hurry and almost didn't answer it. It was the specialist calling to tell me that the ER doctor had sent off some extra test during our visit and the results had just come in. He proceeded to tell me that he was very sorry, but that our daughter had leukemia and we needed to get her to the hospital immediately. I stood there with tears rolling down my face thinking he must have the wrong number, this couldn't be true. I immediately called my husband and he rushed inside. We had the horrible task of going into Andrea's room and waking her up to let her know that she had cancer. Our world turned upside down at that very moment. We were sent to Johns Hopkins Hospital where they did further testing to determine what form of leukemia Andrea had. On February 28,2018, Andrea was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. AML is a very fast and aggressive form of blood cancer. It is a quickly progressing disease in which too many abnormal white blood cells are found in the bone marrow, the soft, spongy center of long bones. In AML, myeloid stem cells (a type of blood stem cell) become immature white blood cells called myeloblasts or “blasts.” These blasts do not become healthy white blood cells. Instead, they build up in the bone marrow, so there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. In addition, these abnormal cells are unable to fight off infection. Relapse can occur during any stage of treatment, even with aggressive therapy, or may occur months or years after treatment has ended. Overall, between 60 and 70 percent of children treated for AML will be long-term survivors. Andrea's treatment plan consisted of four separate rounds of chemo therapy. Each round of chemo required a 4-6 week stay in the hospital. She was given several different chemos at a time along with lumbar punctures twice a week to inject chemo directly into her spinal fluid. She was allowed to go home for a week in between each round of chemo. In all, she spent 6 months straight at the hospital receiving treatment. She was having fevers and headaches on a daily basis and slept most part of the days. She was just so weak and sick from the heavy doses of chemo. Through all the nausea, headaches, CT scans, MRI's, spinal taps, allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock, fevers and just feeling like crap, she faught this battle without complaining or protesting. I could not be more proud of her courageous attitude and bravery in beating this cancer. She is my HERO! She is strong, brave, fierce and mighty!! She is a FIGHTER!! Andrea was finally discharged from the hospital on August 22, 2018, two days after her 19th birthday. She will have weekly outpatient visits to do bloodwork and check for any signs of relapse. She will have her central line removed very soon and she will be back on the road to a full recovery. Andrea's goals for the future consist of going back to college to pursue a degree in nursing. Her six month stay at Johns Hopkins has opened her eyes to a career on the oncology floor taking care of children with cancer. She would also like to hold a blood drive to donate back the 60 units of blood and the 64 units of platelets she received during her treatment. We want to thank everyone for their prayers, well wishes and support during this horrific ordeal. We could not have gotten through this without all the love and support from our family, friends, community and total strangers. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and we are forever grateful.

The Childhood Cancer Ripple Effect

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