Karen & Kinzey's Story
Welcome to Team Karen & Kinzey! Karen is a 38 year old paramedic married to her sweetheart, Tim, who is also a paramedic. They tried for nearly seven years to have a baby and found out in April of 2013 they were finally expecting. In July, they went for a routine ultrasound and discovered they were having a baby girl. Daddy Tim was elated to know he was having a princess of... his own. They continued to plan and work, with many visits to the OB for check-ups.
On Saturday, August 17, Karen was at work and began having severe abdominal pain. She was transported by her close friends and fellow paramedics at Havre de Grace Ambulance Corps. to Upper Chesapeake Labor and Delivery to make sure baby Kinzey (she was already named by now) was alright. During her visit she was found to be severely anemic and was admitted for further testing. The next day, doctors informed her that she had abnormal cell growth in her blood and needed to be transferred to University of Maryland for more testing. She was transferred around 11 pm August 18 by Maryland Expresscare Ambulance to the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center. She met part of her team as soon as she arrived to her room.
Early the next morning, she was met by Dr. Kimball, an attending physician at UofM and they began to hatch a plan of action for diagnosing the cause of the anemia and blood cell abnormality. Dr. Kimball called in help from advanced fetal medicine, obstetrics, and internal medicine, and the testing began. Karen underwent many more blood tests throughout the day and evening. An ultrasound revealed the source of her abdominal pain as an enlarged spleen, a side effect of her type of leukemia. Tim stayed by her side the entire time.
On Tuesday evening, August 20, Dr. Kimball came in with her team to discuss the findings of the tests. She stated that there were 50% blast cells in Karen's blood and it was a definite diagnosis of B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Karen was 23 weeks, 6 days pregnant by now. Dr. Kimball requested some time to meet with all the other services to decide on the safest course of action to protect both Karen and her unborn baby Kinzey. Daddy Tim stayed strong and comforting. Leukemia in pregnancy is rare, with an occurrence of 1 in 100,000. This was a unique case for both oncology and obstetrics. By the next day, Baby Kinzey, not even born yet, was a celebrity on the cancer floor and every staff member was cheering both her and her mom on in this fight!
A bone marrow biopsy was performed on Thursday, August 22. Daddy Tim took the day off of work, and Karen had visitors all during the day. Her cousin, Alicia stayed for over six hours and Tim and her friend Leanna spent the entire day with her. The biopsy was difficult and painful. Two hours after the biopsy, Karen, Leanna, and Tim got a treat and were wheeled down to Advanced Fetal Medicine for an ultrasound of baby Kinzey. For as painful as the biopsy had been, seeing baby Kinzey made it all worth it!
Karen's team is dedicated to both her and her baby's survival and after several days of research and meetings decided that she would begin chemotherapy on Saturday, August 24. The risks to baby Kinzey appear minimal with the course they plan to begin and obstetrics is confident they can let Kinzey grow until she is 34 weeks. They have given Karen two doses of steroids for the Kinzey's lungs and will continue to administer steroids throughout treatment. They expect to deliver a beautiful baby girl around Halloween that should have little to no complications at birth. Following Kinzey's delivery, Karen will get two weeks off of chemo to recover from the planned cesarean section, and will begin again undergoing intense chemotherapy treatments. Her treatments are expected to last several months and she will likely remain in the hospital most of that time.
This leukemia is progressive and treatment is aggressive and long. Initial treatment can last a year with maintenance treatment lasting another 2-3 years. Karen and Tim do not discuss prognosis or survival with her team because they believe they will beat this cancer with the love and support of their family and friends and her wonderful team of doctors at University of Maryland Medical Center.
We invite you to follow this amazing journey. It will be long, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, but all the time interesting. There will be friends sharing stories, giving support, providing updates on treatment and of course letting everyone know when baby Kinzey finally arrives! There will also be friends sponsoring fundraisers for the Melton family. We can show our support for them in many ways, but Karen's favorite brand of support is laughter (so tell her jokes often).
The Melton family thanks you for all the love and support they have already received from everyone. They value their friendships and family more than they can put into words. Thank you for being a part of their life and story.
Update- Kinzey is now over 5 months old, she is growing strong. Karen had to suffer through a second surgery due to an E coli infection and was on a ventilator for three weeks. Karen passed away the 17th of November around 21:30 hours. She is missed terribly. Baby Kinzey is still in the hospital at this time. We are looking to Kizeys future with the funds we are raising. Karen and I had hopes she might grow up, become a Doctor and hopefully cure leukemia. Thank you folks for all your support in our time of need.
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