Avery will also tell you that on April 5, 2017, after several episodes of bone pain and abnormal bruising, she was diagnosed with pre-B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“I knew it was bad,” she said. “I knew what leukemia meant, but I didn’t know a lot of things about it. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to go to school, or how many years it would take. I didn’t know what would happen, or if there was a cure or not.”
Her mom was scared too.
“It’s terrifying to hear those words: Your child has leukemia,” Crystal said. “You don’t know what to think, what to expect.”
Despite their fears, the family stayed strong, and their huge support system began to form immediately. The day after her diagnosis, Avery’s entire family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – came to the hospital to be with her.
When Avery came home from that first hospital stay, Ruby – the only member of the family who couldn’t come to LCH – realized something was wrong and has been by her side ever since. Ruby has provided comfort, entertainment, and companionship throughout the intense treatment, earning her the honorary title of therapy dog.
Once Avery was diagnosed, things moved quickly. Her doctors at Atrium Health's Levine Children’s gave her blood and platelet transfusions to prepare her body for the first round of chemotherapy.
“The first time I got blood was kind of crazy,” Avery said. “I didn’t know you could do that. I didn’t know what it would feel like. After a while, I felt fine.”
Two days later, doctors placed her port and began her 10 months of chemotherapy treatment. In total, she spent 90 days in the hospital, and her family made 250 trips to doctors and hospitals in Charlotte from their home in Lincolnton. A nurse herself, Crystal was familiar with the disease and its effects. Still, she was surprised by the amount of blood her daughter needed throughout treatment.
“The one thing I didn’t realize was how much blood she would need,” Crystal said. “She received 17 units of blood and four units of platelets through the course of 10 months.”