From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 16 - July 17, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Ivy Porter: she's the right age

by Rhonda Swain

Only about one in 2,000 children "happen to be the kid that got it," Liz Porter said of her daughter Ivy's acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the white blood cells that normally fight infections, that was first diagnosed in Ivy as growing pains.

Three-year-old Ivy was complaining of her legs, especially the knees, hurting. So Liz and her husband, Karl, decided to take her to the doctor, who said Ivy's affliction was caused by growing pains. Tylenol was prescribed for the pain and Ivy and Liz were sent on their way.

However, Ivy's pain worsened and on June 2, Liz took her to the Marbleton-Big Piney Clinic, where they drew a blood sample - two hours later they were on their way to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

Liz said Ivy spent a week at Primary to begin with, and underwent a month of weekly chemotherapy treatments. Ivy was hit hard that first month to get her leukemia into remission. They also put her on steroids.

The next round of treatment, Liz said, involves an injection into Ivy's spine.

Although Ivy's major symptom was bone and joint pain, according to the National Cancer Institutes' website, fever, fatigue, frequent infections, swollen or tender lymph nodes, liver or spleen, paleness, easy bleeding or bruising and tiny red spots under the skin are also symptoms.

Since the 1960s, when survival rates were less than 5 percent, success rates for ALL have risen to 85 percent.

Chemotherapy is cited as the primary treatment for ALL although the specific drugs used are different for the various subtypes of ALL.

Treatment usually employs multiple drugs given in a precise schedule over a period of two to three years.

In spite of everything, Ivy is handling her situation well.

"She's a trooper," Liz said. "She's handling it well, although by the time we get to Kemmerer or Evanston, she recognizes where we're headed and says, 'I don't want to go ... I hate that place.' Other than that, she's okay."

Liz said Ivy will have a different treatment next month, one that will cause her to lose her hair. She also said the rest of the family plans to shave their heads in a show of support.

Family members aren't the only ones to help out either. Liz said people in Sublette County's caring communities have set donation cans out at several businesses. The Porters have insurance that will cover about 90 percent of Ivy's medical costs, Liz said, and any donations they receive will go directly to Primary.

Four cans have been set out in the Big Piney/Marbleton area (at Joe's Concrete, Waterhole #3, the Silver Spur and All American Tri-Mart); two in LaBarge (at the Eagle Bar and Dry Creek Station); and in Pinedale at the Barn Door. Liz said the money will be gathered weekly and an account is being set up so that interest will accrue. They plan to take a check to Primary on a monthly basis. During the month of August, the four cans in the Big Piney/Marbleton area will be transferred to Pinedale.

As to Ivy's prognosis, Liz said there is a 90-percent cure rate for ALL patients. Because children under the age of one, and those over 10, are more severely affected, "Ivy is the right age," Liz said.

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