Mighty Blog

Camber shines through leukemia diagnosis

img_2668For Morgann and her husband, Greg, the summer of 2016 was spent just as any other. After a string of serious health complications, including Greg’s eye trauma and an emergency C-section during the delivery of their third daughter, the couple was looking forward to settling down and spending the remaining days of summer relaxing with their three daughters Zaria, Camber and Elora.

Zaria and Camber spent the majority of the season playing outside morning, day and night, as many kids do. However, Morgann started noticing small changes in Camber’s behavior. As the summer went on, Camber started coming into the house more frequently asking to take naps. Sometimes, she would curl up on the floor and sleep for hours at a time. While Morgann didn’t think too much of it at first, a few months later she observed strange bruises appearing all over Camber’s body. It was then that Morgann knew that something was not right and decided to take Camber to her pediatrician.

Camber underwent numerous tests to determine the cause of the strange bruising and excessive fatigue. After a few hours of tests, Camber’s results turned up positive for leukemia.

img_3150They were referred to the Children’s Minnesota’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Clinic, where Camber was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer that involves the white blood cells of the bone marrow. Morgann and Greg were told to take the weekend to spend time with family so that they could begin chemotherapy the following week.

Treatment came with its own set of challenges for Camber. Shortly after her port was placed, doctors discovered Camber reacted poorly to the pain medications she had been given. “As a parent you’ll do whatever it takes to make your child well,” Morgann recalls as she watched Camber undergo the grueling cancer treatments and procedures. “You know you’re making the right decision, but still feel a sense of guilt while watching them endure through this.”

img_3292Along her journey, which has included hospital stays, a handful of trips to the emergency room and chemo-induced mucositis, a condition resulting in painful inflammation and ulceration which developed in her throat and stomach, Camber continually surprised her care team with her positive attitude and resilience. Halfway through her spinal tap procedures, Camber wouldn’t need her mom holding her in the room. “Camber would know exactly when it was time for a spinal tap and be surprisingly content. She would always want to sing, play and dance especially to “Wheels on the Bus” with her nurses,” said Morgann. “Everyone at Children’s is fabulous and truly cares about Camber. She had to adjust, but by the end, she got to know the nurses there and learned to trust them.”

Today, Camber is three and a half years old and continues to inspire her parents and care team with her fiery personality and positive attitude while completing maintenance chemotherapy. She takes an oral treatment once a day, which means fewer doctor appointments and spinal taps, something that her family is very thankful for.

“When Camber was learning to walk, she would never look down. Instead, she would always just walk, and every time she fell down she would get back up,” says Morgann. “That’s exactly how she handles cancer. Throughout the whole experience, she doesn’t whine; doesn’t cry, but instead says, ‘Mom, I’m so brave.’ She is truly a brave person.”

Camber's story photo
Camber (center) with sisters Zaria and Elora. Photos by Jonathan Matters.

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Rachel Patterson