ENID, Okla. – Addison Epps is like many 3-year-olds, and loves animals.
However, this Enid girl had to put play dates and visits to museums on the back burner for a few months after she was diagnosed with a life-threatening condition.
“She had ear infections, and they just wouldn’t go away,” says Ashley Epps, who is also a special education teacher.
They went repeatedly to the doctor, and Addison took several rounds of antibiotics, but she continued to get ear infections. She also grew paler and exhausted.
“It was scary,” recalls Ashley, as tears gather in her eyes.
Eventually, blood tests would lead this family to the Jimmy Everest Cancer Center, and a diagnosis of ALL or Acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
All parents wonder if something in the womb or the environment leads to leukemia, and Dr. Renee Mcnall-Knapp says so far, there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason as to who is diagnosed.
“It crosses all socioeconomic boundaries, racial boundaries, geographic boundaries. It’s one of those unfortunate things that can happen and it does,” Dr. Mcnall-Knapp said.
Dr. Mcnall-Knapp breaks into a smile when asked about Addison, who is cautiously opening up to the staff at Jimmy Everest Cancer Center.
“We’re going to be friends, they eventually cave to me, but she isn’t sure we’re going to be best friends yet,” she said.
Addison is in fact, a perfect patient.
“She’s done amazing, just handled the hardest part of treatment so well,” says Dr. Mcnall-Knapp.
Chemotherapy quickly put the brakes on Addison’s symptoms and she has avoided many of the infections and hospitalizations that children fighting leukemia can face.
Addison loves Minnie Mouse, and loves her t-shirts and accessories with Minnie’s image.
Her mother laughs, “She’s in love with Minnie. She’s Minnie but mighty and that is the hashtag we used when she first got diagnosed. We have it on t-shirts.”
The staff here are confident Addison will continue to grow up and lead a very normal life.
Back at Leonardo’s playhouse, Addison grabs a child-sized grocery cart and starts to fill it up in the play store. Her mother says wistfully, “You just don’t take anything for granted anymore. You enjoy everything.”
If you’d like to help children like Addison fight cancer, consider donating to JECFriends.org
‘Kids with Courage’ is sponsored by the Jimmy Everest Center.