Educating, swabbing, and running to end blood cancer!

Anastacia Santa Cruz

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Anastacia’s life changed forever January 27th, 2012.  Prior to this date she had been an active drama, debate, and art student.  She had not been feeling well for a couple of weeks and had a doctor appointment scheduled for that day but had to be carried in because she could not walk.  She was then sent to Children’s Hospital and given a blood test.  She was diagnosed with leukemia.  She was admitted to the hospital at that time with renal failure and breathing problems due to the leukemia.  They wanted to start chemo as soon as possible but because her white blood cell count was so high-360,000 she was given a procedure called apheresis that would take away some of these white blood cells.
Normal white blood cell count is anywhere between 4,500-11,000.  They were trying to get the count down to around 100,000.  The apheresis helped to get the numbers down to around 180,000 and chemo was started.  At some time during all of this or right before she had a stroke which affected her occipital lobe and caused her to loose most of her eyesight, but that problem could not be addressed at this time.  Still having breathing problems she was put on a respirator and placed into a drug induced coma for almost 2 months.  She had dialysis to address the renal failure for about a month.  Anastacia had a total of 5 chemo treatments and is considered to be in remission since around June 4th, 2012.
When she was told she would never see again at some point in late April she was completely depressed.  She had no idea how she was going to do the things she loved anymore or anything else but a few months later some of her vision returned.  Before cancer she had always worn fake glasses, but now she needed them for real and they do help her to see a little better.  Cancer, chemo, dialysis, the respirator, the stroke, and just being in the hospital for 4 ½ months did a great deal of damage to her body and it takes time to get back to normal.  Not only did Anastacia have to recover from all of that, but also had to learn how to adjust to life with the little amount of sight she has left.  She missed a whole year of school and it has been very hard to get back in the swing of things but she is getting stronger and back to her old self more and more every day.  Amazingly, her spirit has remained strong and her sense of humor is still intact and she is so glad to still be here.