Alex the fighter
We all LOVE Alex
As many of you know, Alex just hadn't been feeling up to par all month. We all thought it was allergies and she was run down. A couple of weeks ago she had a skin infection that wasn't healing which sent her to the doctor for an antibiotic. After a couple of days on the antibiotic, she began to notice some lymph nodes in her neck, just in front of her ears and behind that just "popped out". By the end of the antibiotic there were more, which initiated a visit to her PCP Thursday morning, October 4th. They did some blood work and about the time she was arriving at school in Burlington, I got a call in Williston that the pediatric oncology team would meet us in the emergency department. And that is where our journey began. That was four days ago. Alex has been diagnosed with AML Leukemia - we are waiting on cultures for specifics. Good news no areas were noted on her Brain MRI and in the initial look at her spinal fluid. She had her first dose of chemo on Thursday during the lumbar puncture. She began her regular chemo yesterday. We are told she will be in a minimum of a month and then will be re-evaluated. We are all still processing this information and taking it a day at a time. Alex's spirits are good and she still has her great sense of humor.
We are still waiting to learn the specifics of her strain. We know we have a long road ahead, so please keep her in your prayers. Alex is concerned about wrong messages which is why we have begun this site. We are humbled and grateful for all the support that family and friends have already shown us. Please do not take it personally if you reach and we don't respond. Technology is a wonderful thing, but sometimes can be a bit overwhelming - as all of our phones are humming. How lucky are we that we have such an amazing support system! Feel free to send positive messages and especially goofy pictures to Alex to make her day. Thank you for all your love and support during this time.
JEFFERSONVILLE, Vt. (WCAX) - Being a firefighter is in the blood of 18-year-old Alex Blair. The BFA Fairfax Senior along with her father and brother are volunteers at the Cambridge fire department.
"To have Alex come to me and say she wanted to do that, that was a pretty proud moment," Alex's father, Craig Blair said.
Last October, Alex had to temporarily bail-out of her firefighter journey, after being diagnosed with Leukemia.
"Started feeling kind of crumby, thought it was allergies," Blair said. "Lymph nodes started popping out, then had these spots on my face, don't know why," Blair said.
Alex immediately underwent chemotherapy treatments.
"When you're in the hospital, some days are good days. Other days, it's like, whoa, that wasn't so good," Blair said. "I think it's all in how you perceive things and how you go about it."
Before chemo, her bone marrow contained 100 percent Leukemia cells. After the first two rounds of treatment, Alex was at roughly 6 percent.
"We're definitely beating it and that's just going to be the way it is and we'll just go with the flow," Blair said. "If something pops up, we'll just deal with it when it pops up."
"She (Alex) is the toughest person that I know and we're really proud of her," Alex's mother, Heather Blair said. "She's doing really well."
Once a week the Cambridge Volunteer Fire Department meets in Jeffersonville for training. In late December, the group was surprised when Alex made an appearance at one of its meetings. It was the first time Alex had seen her fellow firefighters since her diagnosis. They gave her a standing ovation.
"She comes to the door, she wants to come back," Dan St. Cyr of the Cambridge Fire Department said. "She wants to see everybody so I think she was pretty excited."
What's more surprising than Alex's visit, is the outpouring of support she's received from fire departments in Vermont and across the country. The night of her surprise appearance, Alex received a teddy bear from Troy, Vt. and T-shirts from fire departments in Charleston, South Carolina and Spokane, Washington.
"It's crazy to know that they know what's going on and that they're willing to support another firefighter in another town that they might not have ever known about," Blair said.
Alex will have to have at least four rounds of chemotherapy treatment.
Test results early in January will determine whether she has to continue treatment in Boston or if she can finish chemo at the UVM Medical Center.