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This weekend was a double header for the Pattyn Project. Despite being short one sister, we pull-off two great rooms for two very deserving young ladies. The first room belonged to a precious 14-month-old named Leighton, who lives in Apollo, Pennsylvania. Earlier in the week, we had the pleasure of meeting her father Greg. He filled us in on his daughter’s diagnosis, gave us great insight to her favorite things, and told us about her biggest fan…her older brother Deacon, who is three. Mom and dad are providing amazing support for their little warrior through her journey with cancer. Mom covers the daylight shift and dad handles the night watch after work.
Dad credited Lisa, Leighton’s mom with being the one that knew intuitively something wasn’t right with their baby girl. In early April, their daughter was diagnosed with a double ear infection. Days had passed, and Leighton didn’t seem to be improving. Mom grew increasingly concerned that her daughter was pale, lethargic and not eating, so they returned to the hospital for a fourth time. The Monday after Easter they came to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. During that visit, blood work revealed that Leighton’s white blood cell count was over 1 million, and she received a diagnosis of Acute Lymphocytic leukemia or (ALL).
Leighton received intrathecal Chemotherapy into her cerebrospinal fluid to target any leukemia cells that may have spread to the brain or spinal cord. After undergoing chemotherapy, this little nugget went into remission. From there the family traveled to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to take part in CAR T-cell Therapy, a type of immunotherapy that is showing a lot of promise in the treatment of childhood cancer. It involves the removal of some of the patients’ blood cells, which are genetically re-engineered with new receptors called CARS that are designed to recognize and destroy cancer cells. These cells are then reintroduced in the patient to fight off cancer cells. Fortunately, Leighton has stayed in remission and did not need this form of immunotherapy, instead she came back to Pittsburgh and received a cord blood transplant, which doctors believe will make her less likely to relapse.
When we rolled up to this little angel’s room with a wagon overflowing with treasures to help make her time in the hospital as comfortable as possible, it was clear that she was having a rough day. On top of recovering from her transplant on September 7th, this little trooper was cutting teeth. She managed a few smiles for us, played with the balls from the ball pit we constructed for her, clung to the little Margaret the Tiger we gave her, but mostly she was content just snuggling with mom. We assembled a baby’s crib for her favorite doll, provided a zebra walker and some of our favorite books, along with other age appropriate toys. Leighton’s Great Aunt Darlene showed us Leighton’s bow and matching slipper collection… which I must say was quite impressive! Our friends at Blessed Bag also provided us with a wonderful blanket, warrior bear and some books, which complimented the lamb quilt and Disney attire we received from other Tribe members to complete this room.
Thank you to everyone who has shown us ongoing support, as well as new friends who have come alongside of us, as we pursue this passion. We couldn’t do it without you! We hope you all will continue to consider donating to this special cause, so we can continue to lift the spirits of sweet deserving souls like Leighton. We ask that you all keep this precious little girl and her family in your thoughts and prayers during the remainder of her stay in the hospital, as we hope for persistent progress, and continued strength throughout the rest of her journey to a hopeful recovery. Thank You, Leighton!