Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

July 1, 2013

Community rallies around girl with leukemia

Charles Romans
The Independent

SOUTH SHORE — A daisy, by definition, can be many things.

Commonly it is a yellow-centered flower with long, white petals growing outward. A less common definition, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, would be a “first-rate person or thing.”

Another no less important definition would be Daisy Osborne; a beautiful 3-year-old child who unfortunately discovered three months ago that she, like far too many other young children, had leukemia.

“About three months ago, Daisy laid down for a nap,” her mother, Stephanie Osborne, said. “When she woke up, her foot hurt, and she was having trouble standing on it.”

The problem became worse overnight, and by the next morning Daisy’s foot had become swollen and more painful. The Osbornes took their daughter to the emergency room, and after examination she was sent to Cabell Huntington Hospital. The initial assessment was of an issue with her joints, and treatment began by draining fluid.

“Daisy was admitted to the hospital and stayed there a little over a week,” Osborne vividly remembers.

Family members brought Daisy home, but at that point the doctors were unsure as to what was the true problem. They consulted with an infectious disease specialist on a follow-up visit, and later that day they were advised the doctors believed Daisy had leukemia. A bone marrow biopsy later confirmed it was acute lymphoblastic leukemia, type B.

Leukemia is a blood disease, a cancer that affects the white blood cells, or lymphocytes. Most types of acute lymphoblastic leukemia are type B, but some are categorized as type T. The “type B” or “type T” refers to the type of white blood cells the leukemia targets.

Symptoms for ALL cover a broad range, from aches in the arms, legs and back to bruising for no apparent reason. Enlarged lymph nodes, fever for no obvious reason and fatigue are also part of a larger list of symptoms. But these symptoms alone cannot be used in diagnosis of ALL, because many of these symptoms are shared with other conditions.

Daisy remained at the hospital for nine days after that diagnosis, receiving treatments that included spinals and a medical port. She has been in treatment for roughly two months, and as of day 35 she has gone into remission. Her initial treatments yielded very favorable results, considering that many children with leukemia spend up to six weeks in the hospital for similar initial treatment.

Daisy is scheduled for 21⁄2 years of ongoing treatments at this point, but her overall prognosis is favorable. Her doctors are optimistic she will be able to complete her treatments successfully, and reach that most important stage for anyone suffering from any sickness — cured.

And that optimistic prognosis has a precedent because figures indicate 94 percent of cases of the disease in children have resulted in continuous disease-free survival, and the same percentage appears cured. But given the aggressiveness of leukemia, which can cause prove fatal in as little time as a few weeks if left untreated, early diagnosis is crucial. Daisy’s parents, Stephanie and Shannon Osborne, should be commended for their own quick action on their daughter’s behalf.

Family members, including Brent and Tiffany Osborne, Rachel and P.J. Ratcliff, as well as friends and neighbors, have come together to show their support for the Osbornes in every way possible, including the organizing of fundraisers.

One of those fundraisers was a benefit softball tournament June 21 through 23. Over the course of 21⁄2 days, 33 games were played in the tournament. The winning team in the tournament, 239 Auto of West Portsmouth, showed not only excellent sportsmanship but also exemplified the reason all of the teams participated by presenting their winning trophy to Daisy.

Local support for the Osborne family has been phenomenal, but in the age of electronic connectivity, social media has also played its part. Family, friends and sympathetic supporters the Osbornes aren’t personally acquainted with have offered words of encouragement and support on the Facebook Page, Pickin’ Up Daisy, dedicated to the child. The page is regularly updated with photographs, Daisy’s progress, and information about upcoming fundraisers like the one set for Saturday at Kentucky Farm Bureau in Greenup.

Fundraisers help to defray the family’s expenses associated with Daisy’s ongoing treatments. But help and support aren’t always of a financial nature. Kind words of encouragement go a long way and help those who are experiencing need of any sort to know they aren’t alone, and the community (and beyond) cares about the struggles they are facing.

Stephanie and Shannon Osborne, Daisy and her brother, Zander, appreciate and are encouraged by the show of support they have received.

“She has good days and bad days,” Stephanie Osborne says. “But the good days outweigh the bad.”

One of those good days was when Daisy received the trophy from 239 Auto. The smile on her face alone was priceless. And though there are no doubt many things about leukemia and its treatment that she doesn’t yet understand, she does understand people care. As she said, “They played for me and wanted me to have the trophy."

Hopefully Daisy’s good days will always outweigh the bad.

CHARLES ROMANS is a freelance writer who lives in Greenup County.