Juliet had always been a healthy girl, until one day in 2017, she came home from school and discovered little red dots all over her body. The rash is called petechiae, and looked like a hickey mark, or broken blood vessels under her skin. She went to the doctor who suggested she get blood work. The next thing she and her family knew, they were told to go straight to the ER at the Alberta Children’s Hospital for a life-saving blood transfusion. That is where Adrienne said her life flashed before her eyes. Sixteen years ago, their then three-year-old daughter Grace was diagnosed with leukemia and went through a long journey of treatment. The ER doctors, seeing the look of worry in her eyes, shared the news that was more positive, but still worrisome, this time around. Juliet had chronic Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), a serious blood disorder that can lead to easy or excessive bruising and bleeding because of an abnormally low level of platelets. A typical person will have between 100,000 and 150,000 platelets. Juliet had just three. It meant that one fall from the monkey bars or hit in the head by a ball on the playground could have meant severe internal bleeding. Her mom says she was a “ticking time bomb.”
Juliet was put in touch with Immunologist Dr. Nicola Wright who started her on IVIG treatment that would help give her blood clotting agents. When she and her mom went to the Hematology Unit on Unit 1 – the same unit her sister stayed – they felt at home, and a sense of relief knowing again, they would receive the best care possible. Juliet says there the nurses are caring and comforting, especially to the kids who are afraid of needles. Not her. As she will tell you, “I have watched Grey’s Anatomy since I was four. I’m not afraid.” Meantime Adrienne has loved running into the staff who still remember them after all these years. Though the new hospital looks much different than the old one Grace might remember, one thing that hasn’t changed is what they feel when they enter. Love.
Though Juliet has had to suspend some activities she loves like tobogganing and skiing because of her condition, she hasn’t let it get her down. She and her family are just so grateful for their dedicated care team and to people in the community who continue to rally around families like theirs through their generous support.
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