CLEVELAND – It’s a big day for eight-year-old Audrey Heath.
She finally gets to ring the bell at Cleveland Clinic Children, celebrating that she’s cancer-free.
“It’s like such an exciting milestone that we’re here, that she finished treatment,” said her mother, Nicole.
Audrey was diagnosed with leukemia in 2021.
Nicole recalls the day they got the news.
“We gave her very upfront facts, like you have leukemia, you’re going to be getting a lot of medicine, and you’re probably going to lose your hair,” said Nicole.
Her daughter’s road to recovery was anything but easy. She experienced multiple medical complications.
And at one point, had to be put on ECMO, which is a type of life support, to help her heart and lungs rest.
“For kids with leukemia, it’s very common to have fevers at least a couple times during treatment and sometimes those fevers are indicating a blood stream infection, like Audrey had,” explained Seth Rotz, MD, pediatric oncologist for Cleveland Clinic Children’s. “What’s unusual is the severity of the infection, requiring ICU admission, intubation and then ECMO even.”
Despite the challenges, Audrey always found a reason to smile.
“I couldn’t go out to recess. I stayed in and a lot of my friends stayed in and played with me,” she said fondly.
Now, she’s able to do all her favorite things again.
“She’s swimming and running,” said Nicole.
And just started cheerleading too.