Monday, August 22, 2011


Illness usually comes with little or no warning. And when life is on the line, all other problems seem small in comparison. And we remember that health matters most.

Matthew's dear friend is fighting for her life against Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Gabbie is 2 weeks younger than Matthew. Like Matthew, she has Down syndrome. She will be 4 years old in October.

Thanks to a mutual friend, we first met Gabbie and her family in June 2009. (See Weekend With Friends post for photos and video). Matthew and Gabbie were 20 months old. We marveled at Gabbie's independent walking skills when Matthew still needed full support when taking steps. Both kids had some degree of food aversion and/or pickiness. They played next to each other. In 2010 they both welcomed their younger siblings into the world, born just 4 days apart. They are both determined and persistent in their own little ways.

We had planned to get together again this year - right before the diagnosis. Needless to say, plans are on hold. We have faith that Gabbie will overcome this and that we will celebrate with them soon enough.

Chemotherapy has started, a 6-month treatment that she will undergo even through her 4th birthday. She is in the hospital this week with pneumonia, which is one of the possible complications for undergoing chemotherapy. Her mom's recent update: Gabbie has begun to lose her hair. She says, "I'm not sad about the hair loss because it's just hair and it will grow back. I'm sad about what it represents and what it is constantly reminding us - that Gabbie is very ill and fighting for her life."

It makes us very sad too.

If you would like, please visit Gabbie's CaringBridge page. Stop in if you can, say hello, and please keep her in your prayers.

About Leukemia In Individuals With Down Syndrome
I personally detest statistics but in the interest of putting a few things into perspective about leukemia and Down syndrome, here are a couple of facts I found.

- According to the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), approximately 1 in every 100 individuals with Down syndrome will develop leukemia compared with 1 in every 2000 children without Down syndrome.

- Compared to most children with AML, children who also have Down syndrome respond to treatment better, and have survival rates as high as 85%, compared with 50-55% for children without Down syndrome. However, children with Down syndrome have more complications than children without Down syndrome.

To learn more about treatment of AML, here is an article I found on CureSearch for Children's Cancer.

Related posts:
Weekend With Friends
Mi Casa Es Su Casa


Jen G. (Gabbie's mom) said...

Ria, thanks for sharing Gabbie's story. I appreciate all the help you've given us. And thanks for being there whenever I need someone to talk to. I treasure our friendship very much!