age 1, blood cancer
Gracie’s smile lights up a room. When her dad’s service dog, Karson, comes into her view, she squeals in delight. She’s a happy little girl, clearly the apple of her parents’ eyes.
She’s also a very sick little girl. Just one day after her birth, Gracie was diagnosed with infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
I barely got to hold her. They thought it was leukemia. The next morning they knew for sure.
“I was devastated,” said Gracie’s mom, Ashley.
“I lost it,” said Gracie’s dad, Brett. “I was so far away, I couldn’t be there with them.”
Brett is a corporal in the United States Marine Corps. Last September, when Ashley, who was home in the States with family, went into labor, Brett was deployed in Iraq. Nearly 7,000 miles separated them. Ashley’s pregnancy had been smooth sailing and Gracie’s birth had gone well. For a fleeting moment, Ashley held her newborn daughter to her chest before nurses whisked the baby away. Little Gracie had a fever, and her breathing was off.
“I barely got to hold her,” Ashley said. “They thought it was leukemia. The next morning they knew for sure.”
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At St. Jude, Gracie started chemotherapy immediately. She is a part of the TINI protocol. Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from everyday people, St. Jude has the freedom to focus on what matters most —saving kids regardless of their financial situation.
It was hard for Brett and Ashley to see their baby hooked up to machines, but Gracie’s care team has helped them every step of the way.
“Gracie’s doctor loves her so much,” Ashley said. “Seeing how much she cares for Gracie, seeing her play with Gracie, it means a lot to us.”
Brett is thankful for Gracie’s nurses. “Some of her nurses have known her longer than I have,” he said. “They’re with Gracie every day. They’ve watched her grow.”
Seeing Gracie’s smile every day, seeing how happy she is, that helps us get through this. She’s growing every day.
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