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Mission Honoree: Karlee Hofmann
It was Christmas 2001 when Karlee and her brother, Cole, had come down with what seemed to be a common cold. After a couple of days of Robitussin and Tylenol, Cole got better, but Karlee did not. After a couple of weeks of back and forth to the doctor’s office, her fever continued. Moreover, Karlee began to nap longer and more frequently. Her parents knew something was wrong.
On January 23, 2002, Karlee’s parents took her to the doctor for further examination along with some blood tests. As a result, it showed that Karlee had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).
At this time of Karlee’s diagnosis, her White Blood Count was over 50,000 and her Red Blood Count was at 5, which classified her as having high-risk ALL. She was in need of immediate treatment and quickly received a blood transfusion followed by surgery to implant broviac catheters into her chest to make it easier to draw blood and administer chemotherapy medicine. A few weeks into her treatment, Karlee was doing great and was categorized as an early rapid responder. It was apparent that she was winning her battle with cancer.
Unfortunately, Karlee started to feel weak and started to have trouble standing. Within a week, she was paralyzed from the neck down and on a respirator. She had an adverse reaction to the intrathecal methotrexate that was injected into her spinal fluid to protect her central nervous system from the cancer. After a few months, Karlee mysteriously began to regain the use of her upper body, including her breathing. The doctors eventually determined that the damage that remained was in her neurons and that it was preventing her brain from being able to send signals to her legs telling them what to do.
As a result to the adverse reaction to the methotrexate, the doctors needed to find an alternative treatment to protect Karlee’s spinal fluid and brain from the cancer. At this point, they introduced cranial radiation into her treatment, which is not commonly used in treating patients with ALL. Over the next 18 months, she received several courses of radiation in conjunction with her chemotherapy. During this time, her blood tests showed that the cancer had vanished. Karlee still had to continue to go to the hospital on a regular basis to have her blood checked and would continue for five more years. It wasn’t until her fifth anniversary of her final treatment that she was considered cancer free!
Karlee is now 15 years old and a sophomore at Council Rock High School North. She is a good student and a member of the cheerleading squad. More importantly, she has wonderful family, great friends, and happy with herself. Her parents have always encouraged Karlee to be strong, to believe in herself, and be the best that she can. It’s because of this that helped Karlee during her battle with cancer. It has helped her become who she is today… a survivor!
To make a donation in Karlee’s honor, please visit: http://www.lls.org/pages/epa/