Kids with courage: Pauls Valley teen beats cancer

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PAULS VALLEY, Okla. - Abby loves purple; it's her favorite color.

But, the day we met her, she was wearing pink and just had to show us her cute pink bag and gold wallet that she chose because it matches the gold beads adorning the bag.

Like a lot of other kids her age, she loved playing softball on her high school team at Pauls Valley High School.

"She was a perfectly healthy child that played numerous softball games," said Michelle Gamble, Abby's mother.

So, her mom was worried in the spring of Abby's sophomore year when she started complaining of headaches and having nosebleeds.

Then, came a phone call no mother ever wants to get.

"She called and said, 'Mama, I'm sick, and I need you to take me to Children's,'" Gamble said. "I said, 'Okay, I'm coming to pick you up right now.'"

Gamble knew her daughter's illness could be serious, but she was not prepared for what came next.

"What we thought was a neurology thing turned out to be leukemia, and so of course we were devastated," Gamble said.

At 15, Abby came to the Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer at OU Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City.

The teen began a two-year battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, which attacks the blood and bone marrow.

Abby's team of specialists at Jimmy Everest knew a bone marrow transplant was her best hope.

"Up front at the time of relapse, we probably felt like we had a 60 percent chance or so to have her go through transplant and remain in remission," said Dr. David Crawford, who led the team treating Abby at Jimmy Everest.

An anonymous donor provided a good match for Abby and, although the treatment made her very sick, it was a success.

Abby told us the experience has changed the way she looks at life and wonders why her peers waste so much time dealing with the drama that comes along with being a teenage girl.

"Sometimes, you wonder why people fight over some of the stuff they do and why they say the things that they do," Abby said. "Once you're creeping with death, it's a little bit different."

During her ordeal, Abby was able to go on a ski trip with other Oklahoma kids who, just like her, are putting up a courageous fight against cancer.

She loved spending time with those kids but always dreamed of going back to high school and her friends.

Then, came the news from Abby's doctors that she had been hoping to get for a long time.

"I could go back to school!" Abby exclaimed.

Abby's cancer is in remission once again, and her doctors are hopeful.

"If she remains in remission, as we think she should, she should be fine. She should be able to go on and live a normal, healthy adult life."

For Gamble, who has been by her daughter's side through it all, nothing could be sweeter.

"It's been such a long journey," Gamble said. "I think we need to have another party. I think it's party time!"

Abby had a team of doctors at Jimmy Everest caring for her using groundbreaking treatments, so Abby and her family were able to get the best care possible right here in Oklahoma.

That's a major goal of the Jimmy Everest Center - helping courageous kids beat cancer without having to leave home.

To learn more about The Jimmy Everest Center for Cancer or to donate to the effort to cure cancer in Oklahoma children, visit the center's website.