At twenty-eight months Aubrey’s bright blue eyes capture the attention of everyone she meets.
Her soft features can often be seen under the brim of her favourite sun hat—all smiles as she twirls around dancing. Her mother Megan says she is a social creature, which might surprise some, given her unusual start to life.
Aubrey was born April 7, 2015 to parents Megan and Allan and best friend, Cheddar, the family’s three-year-old dog.
“By all accounts she was a healthy, happy, bouncy baby,” said Megan.
It wasn’t until 18 months later in September 2016 that Megan and Allan started noticing bruising on Aubrey’s body, followed by a fever, loss of appetite and weakness. Aubrey was taken to BC Children’s Emergency Department and within two hours Megan and Allan were told their daughter had leukemia.
“As soon as we arrived at the hospital, it was all-hands on deck,” said Allan. “The team really came together to help Aubrey.”
Aubrey was taken into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where she was given a transfusion to stabilize her red blood count, followed by a bone marrow biopsy and lumbar puncture the next morning. Doctors determined that Aubrey’s condition was acute myeloid leukemia (AML), with a mutation called FLT3/ITD which is understood to be a chemo resistant mutation. Aubrey stayed at BC Children’s from September 9, 2016 to December 23, 2016 for her first three rounds of back-to-back chemotherapy.
Because of Aubrey’s FLT3/ITD diagnosis, it was determined early on that she needed a bone marrow transplant. A world-wide search was conducted and although a perfect match was found, the donor was unable to donate. However due to significant progress in haploidentical transplantation (wherein a patient is a 50 per cent match to the donor), Allan was considered just as good a donor and Aubrey proceeded to transplant with her Dad’s marrow.
The transplant took place February 1, 2017. As with all bone marrow transplant patients, Aubrey was at a higher risk for challenges with her new immune system adjusting to its new environment. She was put on immune-suppressants to allow her body to adapt slowly. Over the course of Aubrey’s time at BC Children’s she received a total of 51 bags of blood products to get through treatment.
Aubrey came out of isolation and was home mid-March. As part of her treatment plan, she visited BC Children’s outpatient clinic several times a week and over time these visits have become less frequent.
Today Aubrey is in remission, but there is a 50 per cent chance she may relapse within the year. Megan says that Aubrey is a vivacious child, but due to her immunosuppressed state they have had to take certain precautions to ensure she remains safe and healthy. Megan and Allan are hopeful for their daughter’s future and do their best to ensure she experiences all the dancing, smiling and laughter a two-year-old should.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Learn more about how BC Children’s oncology clinic diagnose, treats and cares for young patients with cancer.