On the morning of February 5, 2013, Maria Elena Juarez was seen by her pediatrician for a multitude of symptoms. Since Christmas, she had been experiencing a cough, tiredness, occasional fever, loss of appetite, and pale skin. A severe nosebleed lasting almost 40 minutes caused for her parents to make the appointment that day. She was given a diagnosis of bronchitis and prescribed antibiotics. Later that evening, Elena’s right cheek became swollen and her mother called the on-call nurse at their local hospital. Confirming her suspicion that it was NOT an allergic reaction, and in light of the severe nosebleed the day before and the pale skin, the on-call pediatrician and nurse advised that Elena be taken to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible. Upon their arrival at the McLane Children’s Hospital ER in Temple, TX, Elena was immediately taken to a private room for lab work, xrays, and a ct scan. Initial lab work showed that her red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets were extremely low. Already voicing the real possibility of cancer, the ER physician admitted her to the hospital for a blood transfusion and further observance and lab work. Lab tests the next day after the transfusion confirmed the previous numbers, and a bone marrow biopsy and lumbar puncture were scheduled for Feb. 7th. Results from those tests showed leukemia cells present in Elena’s spinal fluid…confirming not only that she had leukemia, but also that it was trying to spread to her brain. The next day, Elena had surgery to implant a catheter into her heart, through which she would receive her iv chemotherapy and have blood work drawn. Elena was also found to be neutropenic, meaning that her neutrophil levels were dangerously low, as well. This diagnosis made her very susceptible to infection, meaning that she can’t be around live flowers or fresh fruit that might have been exposed or treated to pesticides. It also meant that she cannot be around anyone who has a cough, runny nose, is or had been sick recently. Elena is scheduled for another bone marrow biopsy and lumbar puncture on March 8th. It is the hopes of her family, friends, and doctors that the results of those tests will show no more leukemia cells are present in her, at which point she would be in ‘remission’. Until then, she has weekly chemotherapy treatments every Friday morning.
On November 16th, Maria Elena was rushed to the ER due to high fevers. She is currently still hospitalized. Please keep her in your prayers. She is now on chemo daily (as compared to her usual, which is three times a week.) Let’s all just pray she continues to kick cancer’s butt!!!