In April of 2023 Guinevere Millea was a playful two-and-a- half-year-old who showed what her parents believed to be typical signs of bruising that any child might show that spends their days as an active toddler playing with their 10-year-old brother. Her mother Marrissa sought to have Guinevere tested for iron deficiency as she herself was. Then one day, a bruise obtained by running into a door, presented in a way that seemed far too severe for the little bump that had occurred. This prompted the family to go ahead and get that bloodwork scheduled. A call went in on a Friday, but since the family thought they were dealing with iron deficiency, they did not want to take a “sick visit” from a child who truly needed it, and agreed to wait until the following week. Over that weekend, Petechiae (tiny spots of bleeding under the skin) set in all over little Guinevere’s body, including the inside of her mouth.
When they arrived for their 10:30 AM appointment on Monday, the Doctor’s demeanor changed upon examining Guinevere. The family sensed that something more severe was being considered. Marrissa remembers seeing a large orange “STAT” sticker on her daughter’s bloodwork and at around 2:30 PM that afternoon they received the diagnosis: Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, or ALL. Marrissa said she will never forget the moment she heard “it’s what we feared, it’s the leukemia”. After a 6-minute phone conversation and before 3:30 PM that afternoon they were at The Waters Center for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital for day one of their first inpatient stay.
“She calls her doctors and nurses “Her Friends”
Along with the cancer it was seen that Guinevere had about 1/3 the amount of blood in her body she was supposed to, extremely low platelet count and her white blood cells were through the roof. It was a whirlwind of emotions, terms, numbers, treatments, but also compassion and understanding from the cancer team. The following day Guinevere went through with her first surgery to have a port placed in her chest, to help with blood draws and transfusions since she would be receiving so many. She also had a lumbar puncture to check spinal fluid, and a bone marrow sample taken from her hip bone. After almost a week of medications and fluids, they finally went back home to start weekly clinic visits. Since the first inpatient visit Guinevere has had numerous inpatient stays, emergency visits and clinic visits, which include: needle pokes, chemo treatments, blood and platelet transfusions, and chemo, antibiotics. Part of her treatment requires shots in the leg at home given by mom.
The family is so very thankful that so far Guinevere has responded well to all her treatments. “Besides the cancer she’s doing great” is said often because they know over all they have been lucky after the initial diagnosis. Even being diagnosed so fast isn’t a very common story among other cancer families. They are so grateful for everyone who is helping them on this journey, especially their cancer team at the hospital and the clinic. Guinevere considers all the doctors and nurses her friends. On clinic days she will take her mom and dad up to 11G to see her friends there every time. Along with an amazing team the family has said they have found such comfort and relief with organizations like ours. “Paige’s Butterfly Run was one of the first organizations we heard of after admission. They gifted us a backpack full of things we didn’t even know we would need. It was nice knowing the support was there when we were ready. Since that day Paige’s has supported us in more ways than one.”