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Hayven is a playful almost 4-year-old who loves to watch movies (Frozen is her favorite), dance and listen to music. This year, she has also been fighting hard against acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).

On December 8, 2020, Hayven was lethargic and sleeping more, then spiked a fever. Madison, Hayven’s mom, knew something was wrong and took Hayven to the emergency room. She was initially diagnosed with strep throat infection and prescribed antibiotics.

Hayven’s fever still didn’t break, and she had to go back to the emergency room. This time, Hayven was quickly admitted to Dayton Children’s and brought to the hematology/oncology floor where they met Mukund Dole, MD and some other care team members. “We knew then that something wasn’t right. Dr. Dole said they found abnormal cells in her blood, and believed it was leukemia,” Madison recalls.

a diagnosis and start to treatment

While Hayven was admitted, they ran additional tests to determine what kind of leukemia she had and her risk status. After the results came back, the family met with the care team for a conference. Dr. Dole shared Hayven’s diagnosis: acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). He reassured them that Haven was low risk, and her cancer was very treatable. Right away, the team went to work on Hayven’s treatment plan and started her chemotherapy . After being admitted for eight days, Hayven was able to go home and started doing her treatment from home.

“When they first explained Hayven’s complex treatment plan, Dr. Dole and our care team were kind and thorough. They continue to be these things, and are so receptive and understanding of any of our questions or concerns. We’re very thankful for that as we go through this journey,” Madison said.

moving into the maintenance phase

At first, Hayven received chemotherapy through an IV line, but eventually had a central venous catheter, (called a port) installed and received most of her chemotherapy through the port. She also took daily chemotherapy medications and had occasional lumbar punctures. Hayven is now in the maintenance phase of her treatment, and has lumbar punctures every 3 months, and infusions once a month. Hayven’s treatment is planned to end in March 2023.

“The initial shock of hearing that your child has cancer is terrifying and world-shattering. Be patient with your understanding of this complex disease and the emotional and physical changes that happen to your child,” Madison shared. “With the immense amount of support and dedication that you receive from the care team, it does get better.”