Happy birthday Autumn!
In Virginia, Autumn celebrated her 4th birthday and is Casey Cares' 114th birthday this year!
Casey Cares knows that for a critically ill child, each birthday is a special milestone celebrating life. For the children in our programs, it not only marks another year, but it also demonstrates a great achievement. Casey Cares staff and volunteers work hard to send out each of our kids a special birthday package through our Birthday Blast program - we send over 1,000 a year. This simple act of kindness delivers joy and hope to our kids who are undergoing treatment.
From High Fevers to 103 Days in the Hospital
Autumn’s illness was first discovered after she had digestive issues at 2 years old. This pattern continued despite different ways given by medical staff to relieve it; the young girl soon started to spike high fevers. Read more here!
This was when her mother Ashley knew something was wrong. “My mommy gut said this isn’t right, so we took her to get a fresh set of eyes on the problem.”
The doctor told her that Autumn needed to go to the ER and get scans and bloodwork done.
“A doctor came in with a box of tissues and said Autumn had a 5 x 5 x 7 inch tumor in her 2-year-old body. The doctor was in tears,” Ashley remembers.
Autumn was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor cancer, a cancer of the kidney.
“She was admitted to oncology because [the tumor] was so large that the doctors did a biopsy. Autumn went on a chemotherapy plan but then she hemorrhaged.”
“[Autumn] was dying in my arms and they had to call a code on her. The doctors had to perform an adult embolism on her and it was successful though we were in the ICU for about the month,” Ashley says.
Autumn was in the hospital for 103 days, “fighting for her life. There were calls to other hospitals to come up with a plan to successfully remove her tumor and they did,” Ashley states.
The mother notes that she and her husband explained to Autumn’s older sister, Ayla, that Autumn, “had a bump in her body and doctors were going to fix it.”
Ashley compares Autumn’s treatment to divorce where “one parent would be at the hospital and the other would be at home for days on end.”
Autumn is currently in remission though she continues to have check-up scans every three months.
As parents to a critically ill child know, “cancer doesn’t end after remission. Autumn is still in numerous therapies and is in recovery mode,” Ashley states.
PAW Patrol, We're On a Roll!
To this day after joining Casey Cares in 2021, Autumn’s favorite activity has been going to Paw Patrol Live!
Ashley says, “Paw Patrol Live! was such a highlight. When we were in the hospital she fell in love with it, so when that was offered to us, she lit up.”
She continues, “just to see the joy on her face was such a gift. Autumn knew all the songs and wanted to go on stage with them.”
Ashely appreciates Casey Cares, “consistency in care and reaching out to us and offering activities. When we notified [them] that we were in remission, programs were still offered. Plus, it has been nice to not tap into our nonmedical funds for the family to have a fun time. It’s also a mindfulness of Casey Cares to include her sister.”
Fear Does Not Dictate Your Future
The mother notes the challenges of being a parent to a critically ill child. “We wanted to have control and fix it as a parent and it can be a challenge to surrender. The surrender of fear and not letting it dictate your future. We let our pain become our purpose and found joy through trials.”
She reflects that, “every day is a gift and we trusted in our community and faith.”
Ashley adds that they had, “great family support around us.”
Today, Autumn is a bright young girl who loves purple, the show Bluey, and shaking her head to show off her hair. She has relearned how to walk and eat and finished chemotherapy the week of Christmas 2022.
“She gets to be a kid and laugh with her sister,” Ashely says. “Despite everything she’s gone through, Autumn remains joyful.”
Want to bring a lasting memory to kids like Autumn? Click here!