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Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
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Makenzie is a bright 7-year-old girl who loves dancing, music, and Disney’s Descendants and Elsa. She’s a little fashionista and likes to strut her stuff in high heels and fancy clothes.
In 2014, 20-month-old Makenzie needed a bone marrow transplant to treat her severe combined immunodeficiency. A year later, she found out that the matched donor had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
For three-and-a-half years her family closely watched Makenzie for signs of leukemia. Unfortunately, a month after her fourth “new life day” (the anniversary of her transplant), she was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome and needed another bone marrow transplant. She was referred to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and before she could begin her second transplant, her cancer had progressed to AML. Instead of receiving her transplant, she began chemotherapy for two months.
At the end of August, Makenzie was close enough to remission to finally have her transplant, but it failed. All of her previous donors had been unrelated, so this time, her mother, Sheila, decided to try something different. It turned out Sheila was a promising match for her daughter. Makenzie immediately had her third transplant, this time with her mother’s cells.
Since then, Makenzie has been in active treatment to rid her body of the cells from her first donor. It’s a slow but steady process. Every month she travels for a cycle of chemo 250 miles from home. Her family utilizes the Travel For Care program through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), which makes the four hour drive and multiple hotel stays doable.
“Alex’s Lemonade Stand has been our guardian angel. Without them, we would be unable to travel for treatment,” said Sheila. “They’ve gone above and beyond to reach out to us and our social worker during this pandemic to see if we needed help with groceries and a care package. They take helping pediatric cancer families to a whole new level.”
Fevers and illnesses instantly bring Makenzie down, so it is important to keep her as healthy as possible. That has not been easy during the COVID-19 outbreak, but Makenzie’s treatment cannot stop.
When she’s older, Makenzie wants to work at Taco Bell and McDonalds (for free food, of course). She also wants to be a mom one day and adopt a child since it is all she ever talks about. Makenzie has some learning disabilities, so her mom would love to see her overcome those obstacles and become a doctor or nurse like she wants too! Her mom’s first hope is always that Makenzie will grow up and be a healthy girl.
Information provided by Sheila, Makenzie’s mom
Updated May 2020
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