Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Meet Kamryn: Fort Worth Light The Night Honored Hero

 Kamryn was a fourteen year old, straight-A student and competitive cheerleader when she went to see the doctor because of mono-like symptoms.  Three days later, after several blood tests, doctors returned with a diagnosis of biphenotypic leukemia: a rare leukemia where both AML & ALL cells are present.  Please read on to hear Kamryn tell her story in her own words.  Kamryn is serving as our Honored Hero for the Fort Worth Light The Night Walk.

“I was diagnosed with Biphenotypic Acute Leukemia in November of 2014. I was a very healthy, active, and normal 14 year old girl before my diagnosis. I had just started my freshman year as a straight A student at Aledo High School. My whole life was cheerleading, school, and homework.  Around Thanksgiving, I went to the Doctor for mono like symptoms. I was feeling rundown, achy, and very  fatigued. They did blood work and on Monday afternoon my mom got a call from the doctor asking me to come to Cook Children’s Hospital. The next morning I went to the hospital and got the news that I had Leukemia.  I barely knew anything about what cancer was and had never met anyone battling it. My life was completely flipped upside down with no warning.
I was admitted to the hospital immediately and had a port surgically inserted to my chest along with a bone marrow biopsy and lumbar puncture the next morning. I began chemotherapy for ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) that night. I was in and out of the hospital for the next 6 months.  The treatment for AML is very aggressive and they hit it hard and fast for a total of 4 rounds of chemotherapy. I became very sick very fast.  After each round, it would take my immune system longer and longer to bounce back and as soon as it was safe, they would hit it again. The first round I was in the hospital for 40 straight days, spending Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's there.
Losing my hair was a very hard thing for me to deal with. While my friends were at Cowboys Stadium cheering on the Aledo Football Team to another State Championship, I was making the difficult decision to shave the remaining hair I had left.
Besides the 4 more rounds of chemo that I had to endure, I also developed Colitis which ended up with me having a feeding tube inserted surgically into my stomach. Then I suffered a life-threatening fungal infection due to my weakened immune system. This was in my calf muscle which led to a surgery where they took about 30% of my calf muscle.

It was a long, scary 9 months but my life is finally getting back to normal. I’m cancer free!  I’m tumbling again and back to focusing on school.   If it weren’t for the genetic testing advancements in the last couple of years, I would still be undergoing treatment for ALL. The chemo damaged my body and left me with “chemo brain”, a  fogginess that takes a while to go away. Gentler methods to treat cancer are needed now."

Kamryn celebrated her 16th birthday and a year in remission. She has returned to cheerleading, is a Junior at Aledo High School and is now part of the Youth Advisory Counsel at Cook Children’s. Stories like Kamryn’s are far too common and her story could have ended very differently had she not received genetic testing to determine a better treatment plan.  Advancements such as these are crucial in the hunt for cures. Your participation in the Light The Night Walk and your commitment to raise funds on behalf of LLS plays a vital role in allowing LLS to continue investing in promising research.

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