Nat was born May 17th, 2006. She was a very polite and cute baby and very easy going. Labor Day Weekend 2007, our family went to the beach. Natalie was not acting herself that weekend. She was irritable, grumpy, not eating, fussy, whiney, just not her normal self.
Dr. Anzalone suggested we bring Natalie in that week to the doctor’s office for a checkup, and we did. She had some other issues going on as well as having a fever of 102. They initially thought, maybe a viral infection and in fact it did turn out to be a blood infection, but the odd blood count of her white blood cells prompted a second blood screening. That came back with results that could be Leukemia.
That was September 12th, 2007…we then took Natalie to Hershey Medical Center that evening for admission into the Children’s Hospital. As it was Natalie did have Leukemia (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) and while that is the ‘good’ kind for children, her white blood cell count was high. Anything over 5,000 is considered high risk. Her counts were at 138,000! She was too small to take an IV- pick line in her shoulder and they tried 5 times in surgery to affix one to her, and failed. She had a mediport put in, knowing that there was a good risk that it may be infected. It was a calculated risk, as we had to get medication in her to stop the cancer.
Natalie had numerous setbacks and complications. The blood infection wasn’t taken care of for eight months. She spent the first two weeks in the hospital and countless hours in the clinic and hospital. She would go home for a few days, and because of the blood infection and no immune system, she would get sick, spike a fever, and go right back to the hospital for a week. They could not get rid of the infections without removing the port, and they could not do that right away. Natalie’s treatments over the next several months would include some very toxic medicines and have devastating effects on her. At one point her pain was so bad that she was on a constant Morphine Drip.
By the time Natalie turned 2, she finished the hard core beginning treatments and was switched to “Maintenance” (lighter doses of chemo), which was much easier to take care of and handle. Though she did go for spinal tap procedures every week, then every month, and finally every year. Natalie was on “Maintenance” treatment from May 2008 until December 2009. That would be her last dosage of chemotherapy.
Natalie had quite the journey, and through it all has never really complained once. She faced many complications, all related to the blood infections, and has had some really tough times during her journey to good health. She finished up her treatments officially on December 19th, 2009. After 5 years of checkups, we are VERY happy to announce that Natalie is now more than 5 years Cancer FREE!!!
Natalie is now 9 years old and in 4th grade at Conrad Weiser East Elementary. Natalie loves playing with her THON friends and her Princess Dolls. Natalie had a taste of cheerleading after joining the Penn State squad on stage for the 2012 Pep Rally at THON and realized her dream of being a cheerleader. She currently cheers with the Conrad Weiser Scouts Youth Team.
If you would like to donate to THON to help other girls like Natalie, click here. Be sure to donate under general organization, Berks is org #77. Thanks so much!
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