In June 2013, 4-year-old Zoiey began having fevers, swollen lymph nodes and unexplained bruising. Usually vibrant and spunky, she became exhausted and lethargic. Her parents, Eric and Stephannie, took their daughter to the pediatrician. But once she was finished with the medication he prescribed, the symptoms returned. After three weeks, they insisted on tests to identify the cause of the infection. The doctor called with the results and urged them to take Zoiey to the emergency room. The emergency room confirmed that the test results were alarming and arranged for Zoiey to be flown to Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Her blood counts were so low that she received a platelet transfusion en route, with another unit on board as well.
Stephannie called Eric, who was on the road to pick up his son in Bullhead City. “Meet us in Phoenix,” she said. “They think Zoiey might have cancer.” Four days later, they were given the specific diagnosis: acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Zoiey’s doctors began an aggressive regimen of chemotherapy. ALL is the most common form of childhood leukemia and about 90% of patients younger than five years old are cured following treatment.
For the first week, Zoiey stayed in the hospital to receive her treatments with tests to monitor her progress. She received three platelet and four red cell transfusions during this time. Since Zoiey didn’t need around-the-clock treatment, the family was moved to the Ronald McDonald House near the hospital where she could have a more “normal” life, but still be close by to receive her treatments and tests. After three weeks, Zoiey returned home to Yuma.
Zoiey had another intense round of chemotherapy in October, with more scheduled in February 2014. Zoiey and her dad make monthly trips to Phoenix for treatments, tests and blood transfusions if her counts are low. Her treatments are expected to continue until October 2015, more than two years after her diagnosis. So far, Zoiey has received about a dozen blood transfusions to help her stay strong to fight the cancer.
Friends and family have rallied to support the family. Fundraisers, raffles, news stories and other events have raised awareness about childhood cancer and helped the family cover medical expenses.
“We appreciate all the support we’ve received from the community,” Eric says. “Zoiey is a fighter. Thanks to blood and platelet donors, my daughter has the strength to battle leukemia.” Zoiey lives in Yuma with her parents and two older brothers.