A young Queens girl and her mother returning from vacation last month were stunned when a fever the girl developed led to a cancer diagnosis.
Erin Mitchell says she and her 6-year-old daughter Chloe had just gotten back from vacation the week of President's Day when the girl developed a very high fever. She couldn't shake it, and days later, after a visit to the local urgent care center and then their pediatrician, Chloe was admitted to NYU Langone.
That's where she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on March 2.
"Chloe is my everything, so this diagnosis was shocking and devastating," Mitchell, a single parent, told News 4.
Childhood acute ALL is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, and usually gets worse quickly if not treated, according to National Cancer Institute. Sign of the cancer include fever and bruising.
In her 28 days as an outpatient at Hassenfield Children's Cancer Center at NYU Langone, Chloe has been getting chemotherapy through a port in her chest and chemotherapy injections through spinal taps, and she's taking daily steroids, Mitchell said.
Chloe, a first-grader at P.S. 193 in Whitestone, has had to stay home from school and stop all her activities while undergoing treatment. The total treatment time for ALL is two years, and she'll probably go back to school in the fall, according to her mother.
"The prognosis is very good, it is just a long journey with treatment. But the doctors are very optimistic," said Mitchell.
The "very active" Chloe has a ton of friends and hobbies, her mom says. She played soccer and basketball, did martial arts and took piano lessons.
Now she's getting home instruction while her mother still continues to work, mostly from home. A babysitter stays with Chloe when Mitchell goes into her Manhattan office two days a week.
Mitchell's only other family member in the area is her mother, who lives in Manhattan and is disabled. But she says she feels "overwhelmed" by the generosity and support of their community and their friends.
"Everyone has been amazing," said Mitchell, ticking off fundraisers that Chloe's school, basketball league, soccer league and martial arts school have been holding throughout Queens. Even a dance school, which Chloe has never attended, is holding a fundraiser.
"She has had visitors every weekend. Her friends from school and from the neighborhood," said Mitchell. "I never would have imagined that this would happen to us, and I also never would have imagined that we would receive such amazing support."
The generosity has also shown in a fundraising page set up by a family friend for Chloe and Erin: over $41,000 has been raised from nearly 400 people in 25 days.
"The support we have received has made everything much easier," Mitchell told News 4. "We are staying positive and even Chloe is very positive. She has been very brave and I am so proud of her."
On Monday, Chloe will be undergoing a bone marrow biopsy and spinal tap, which will show if there are any cancer cells left. Then it's on to the next stage of treatment.
"Even a month later [after the diagnosis], I still find myself thinking, 'Wow, my kid has cancer.' I am new to this cancer game," said Mitchell. "But I started reading online and even joined a Facebook page for moms of kids with ALL. But our nurse suggested to just worry about Chloe and I, not to focus too much on other people's stories because they may not apply to us, and it can cause us to worry.
"Every child is different, everyone responds differently to medication," she continued. "I was getting very worried reading these stories. So I am just taking it one day at a time, trying to stay positive."