In June of 2017, Michelle had her world flipped upside down. A healthy, active 16 year old started feeling sluggish, wore down, exhausted, unable to finish her normal hours at dance class. She was sent to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, WV. She had a bone marrow test on Monday, June 12, 2017 and it was confirmed that she had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). This is the most common childhood cancer, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells. She also tested positive with Philadelphia Chromosome (Ph). Ph+ALL is a rare combination, with only about 5% having the chromosome. It causes two genes to fuse together that normally don't. This changed her treatment process a bit. Instead of having one 28 day stay, she would have to do 3 of these stays. She started her induction, and things went rather well. She had some time at home, still getting treatments, then went back in around August for her next round. (She was in remission by this point, but has to go through the whole treatment process.) This ended up being a 2+ month stay with about a month in PICU. Her kidneys did not flush the chemo like it needed to. Her kidneys stopped working, she was getting dialysis very often. She got too much fluid in her lungs causing one to about collapse at one point. She was put on oxygen, then eventually had to be intubated and was fully sedated for a few days. It was a very scary time that we thought we were going to lose her. It took a very long while, but she eventually came back to us, she pushed and pushed herself and sat up, stood up, walked, and soon will be back on that stage dancing her heart out! She received that same chemo another time, and was in and out of the hospital in less than 3 weeks, instead of what normally is a 28 day stay.
She has been in and out of the hospital for treatments and many times for a fever. In April she started getting fluid in her lung again. As she was being sedated to get a tube in to drain it, she had an allergic reaction to the drug. Doctors were seconds away from inserting a breathing tube, but her body calmed down, and she ended up getting rid of the fluid on her own. She has had numerous setbacks, but is very close to being in maintenance (small, not as often treatments, to prevent the cancer from coming back) She has down days, of course, but for the most part she is very very positive and strong. She keeps a smile on her face, God by her side, and the strength she needs to keep herself and her family going! Follow her story on Facebook at #Chellestrong16.