Girl smiling holding a dog

Harper's Story

It was just after Christmas and Harper was as white as the snow on the ground.  A fever that wouldn’t break led us to take her to the pediatrician.  After a few days and no answers, we were advised to take her to UPMC Children’s. Her blood count was so low that the nurses had to poke her over and over to draw blood for testing. They tried both arms, using an ultrasound machine, and the even tried her feet one time, a painful way, but it was the only other option before they had to go straight into her neck.  Luckily, the foot worked, and they got blood to send to the lab.  Even before the results were in, we met with the doctors and instantly dismissed when they tossed out words like Leukemia.  We were wrong to.

Harper was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and her treatment started immediately.  We were comforted by the fact that this is one of the most curable cancers among children, yet still horrified that our child had cancer.

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The nurses and doctors were amazing and mapped out a plan for our warrior to beat this disease. Days in the hospital, away from her sibling and school friends, Child Life kept her spirits high, and the doctors got her stabilized. A little further down the road we hit a speed bump (more like driving off a cliff) when we learned of a suspected perforation in her bowel and that she was going into sepsis. Again, the superhero doctors and nurses at UPMC Children’s saved her life and got the issues all squared away (without having to remove some of her intestines and giving her a colostomy bag, thank God!).

From there, regular visits to UPMC Children’s became our norm, along with daily medicines to help with the fight.  Harper’s spirit and determination lit the way. An unwavering positive attitude and a strength that few of us in life will ever know allowed her to beat cancer, “kick its butt” as we liked to say. That all led to the greatest day, when Harper was able to ring the bell to let the whole world know that she fought cancer, and SHE won!

We still get to go to UPMC Children’s now, but it is less frequent and with a new appreciation that a world-class facility that have saved Harper’s life, not once, but twice is in the community that we live. We are forever indebted and thankful.

—Emily and Wes, Harper’s Mom and Dad

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