Quinn West is your typical, energetic 2-year-old — crazy curly blond hair with a ready laugh. A “happy, smiley kid,” said her mother, Renee West.
“She’s quite a talker and full of life,” West said. “As long as she’s got something to keep her busy, she’ll stay busy.”
Around the middle of September, however, Quinn started acting lethargic, like maybe she was coming down with something.
“And she wasn’t eating,” her mother said, “which is unusual for her.”
In fact, Quinn was always trying to eat things she shouldn’t, like paper and dirt.
“I was always pulling things out of her mouth,” West said.
So she took Quinn to the pediatrician, but they ruled out an ear infection, ruled out strep throat, and couldn’t find anything wrong. But erring on the side of caution, Quinn was prescribed some antibiotics.
Then her mother asked about the eating dirt thing, which got the doctor’s attention. Doctors ran a blood test, found her hemoglobin was low, and drew the blood for a full work-up and sent her home.
That was Tuesday, Sept. 18. Renee and Jason West went to bed at 10 p.m., she said, then were awakened out of a dead sleep by the telephone at 11:30 p.m.
The blood test showed she has leukemia, the doctor said, and told them to go to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center immediately.
“Had you not asked about her eating dirt, we may not have found this for a while,” the doctor told her, “because we don’t normally run blood work on children.”
“The doctor said, ‘You saved her life today because you asked about her eating dirt,’ ” Renee West said.
The family got to the hospital shortly after midnight, and Quinn didn’t leave for 32 days, most of it spent going through a rigorous chemotherapy treatment.
“She had one week where she was down and low on energy, but she remained her cheerful, excited self most of the time,” her mother said. “She had the best attitude.”
Now a calendar hanging in the family kitchen is color-coded with the four different kinds of chemotherapy she is currently undergoing. She has 56 days of outpatient treatment, much of it done by her mother, some by home care specialists that come to their home. Once a week, they make a trek down to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for more therapy. Last week, she had a port installed in her torso to make treatment easier.
Although the family has good medical insurance, the cost of treatment and the hospital stay are astronomical. So some family friends, including the band The Todds, will host a carnival-themed fundraiser for the family next week.
“Because I did catch it early and she hadn’t gotten run down, hadn’t gotten all the bruising and bleeding issues that will normally lead you to the diagnosis, and by that time, they’re not as responsive.
“I’ve learned there is no question too crazy to ask your pediatrician,” Renee West said. “In this case, it saved my kid’s life.”
Quinn’s curly-blond locks are slowly falling out, but her mother said the child won’t mind going bald.
“She hates for me to comb it,” Renee said. “It won’t bother her.”
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