LEXINGTON, N.C. (WGHP) — Finding out their toddler has leukemia is a parent’s worst nightmare.
For one local mother, she says her daughter’s symptoms appeared to be a simple ear infection. Now she wants to spread awareness about the rare form of cancer.
Adalynn Younts just turned 4 years old in December.
While she hasn’t been on Earth long, she has experienced more than a lot of adults have in their lifetime.
It’s because a big portion of her life was spent in hospitals while she was undergoing treatment for acute myeloid leukemia or AML.
Back in November, the then three-year-old Addy got to ring the bell after completing her last round of in-patient chemo.
“We were able to ring the bell the day before Thanksgiving…it was the best feeling ever,” said Amber Gibson, Addy’s mother. “Altogether, she stayed 177 days. Usually, her rounds lasted anywhere from 30-50 days that she was in the hospital consecutively.”
Back in March of 2021, the then three-year-old girl from Lexington was diagnosed with AML.
It’s a rare form of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow and is only found in about 500 kids a year in the U.S., according to St. Jude’s Hospital.
The few symptoms she had only started presenting about a week before her diagnosis and included major bruising of her body, loss of appetite and a droop on her face—which turned out to be bels palsy.
“It’s hard to explain to a three-year-old,” Gibson said. “She asked me the other day, ‘why am I not sick anymore?’ So she knew she was sick and understood some of it, but she was terrified. As a parent, it’s really hard to watch them have to go through that.”
When Addy’s ear infection didn’t clear up with antibiotics, she and her family were directed to Brenners Children’s Hospital where they ran multiple blood tests. It turned into a diagnosis this family could’ve never prepared for.
“I instantly called my mom and broke down, and I told her that they thought that she could have cancer, but I still didn’t believe it…you look at all these kids, and you feel so bad for them, and you think ‘God, I can’t imagine what their family or their parents…go through,’” Gibson recalled.
Adding to that stress, Gibson and her fiancé had just found out they were having a baby boy days before Addy was diagnosed.
“I got my doctor switched that way I could deliver at the hospital she was at. So when it was time…I just went upstairs, and my grandma came and stayed with her,” Gibson said.
This little blessing turned into the hope Addy needed to continue her fight.
“I think the reason all that happened was because he really did bring her so much joy. And he really gave her that push to kind of keep going,” Gibson said.
Gibson hopes Addy’s story brings attention to this rare form of cancer.
Right now, Addy is undergoing the maintenance portion of her treatment where she will take a pill for the next year.