Transplant recipient happy to be home
Leukemia in remission after bone marrow transplant
By: By Megan Sarrazin
| Posted: Saturday, Feb 02, 2013 06:00 am
Six-year-old Halle Popowich is settling back into her St. Albert home after spending nearly three months in Calgary undergoing treatment for leukemia.
“It’s just been wonderful to be together as a family, and Halle and her brother Chase are just having so much fun playing together. It’s really nice,” said Deana Popowich, Halle’s mom.
The family received the green light to return home from doctors at Calgary’s Alberta Children’s Hospital on Jan. 17.
“As things stand now, she’s in remission,” Deana said. “We’ll just hope that everything stays that way and then each month that passes there’s less and less risk of relapse.”
Halle was diagnosed with a rare form of acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow and blood, less than eight months ago after her parents noticed a series of abnormal bruises on her legs and feet. At the time of her diagnosis on June 15, she had a five to 20 per cent chance of survival without a bone marrow transplant. A transplant would raise her chance of survival to the 50 to 60 per cent range.
After Halle’s family issued a public plea for help finding a bone marrow match more than 600 Albertans added themselves to the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. A match was confirmed in mid October.
The family arrived in Calgary at the end of October for intense chemotherapy and radiation in preparation for Halle’s transplant, which took place Nov. 8. The family remained in Calgary, alternating time between the hospital and the Ronald McDonald House, before returning to St. Albert.
The last number of months have been trying for family members, Deana said, but the experience has also brought them together.
“Halle taught us, because she has a child’s point of view, she taught us to live in the moment,” Deana said. “I just take things one day at a time (and) always stay positive.”
In the weeks following Halle’s transplant, she was taking 13 medications, which has now been reduced to seven. Deana expects this to be reduced further in the coming weeks.
Halle will continue making weekly visits to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton for checkups and blood work, and will undergo a bone marrow biopsy in mid-February.
In May, she will be able to return to school and participate in her regular activities with friends.
“Six months post transplant … they will let her go back to school and do anything, basically, that she wants,” Deana said.
The family will be enjoying time at home and avoiding busy locations until mid-May to prevent possible infection, as Halle’s immune system is still vulnerable to infection.