2013-10-19 / The Bullhorn

Audrey Conner — from cancer patient to survivor

By Lillian Mangan and Kyra Beach
Bullhorn Report ers

Audrey Conner Audrey Conner A lthough only 15, Roxboro Community School (RCS) student Audrey Conner has lived through much more than many adults have experienced. Conner was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) when she was just 12.

She was diagnosed after becoming ill and visiting the doctor. The doctor said her hemoglobin was low and he sent her to Duke University Medical Center for further testing, which resulted in the diagnosis of cancer.

When asked how it felt to be told she had cancer, Conner summed up her feelings in one word: “scared.” Her biggest fear was losing her hair; she said that was her main question for the doctors.

Conner started to lose her hair during her first round of chemotherapy. She completely lost it during her second round. Though her biggest fear came true, she only wore her wig maybe once.

Along with the fear of having cancer, she also felt she was alone. The disease is much more common in males than in females and Conner felt she was the only girl to have the disease. She soon found that she was not alone, however. She met a girl who would become an inspiration to her. The older girl was going through the same thing as Conner. She fought the disease with strength. She recovered and was able to go on to college. Conner spent time talking to the girl and connecting with her. She said she felt relieved when she knew she wasn’t the only girl with this disease.

Conner also met two boys her age, along with the older girl. The boys had the same disease she had but they had to have bone marrow transplants. They later passed away during the fight..

While hospitalized, Conner visited her new friends, did arts and crafts, watched movies, played on the computer and attended some hospital schooling. Her favorite thing to do was make crafts. When she was asked what stood out the most in her artwork Conner said, “my bird house.” She painted the bird house pink, purple, orange, and blue; they were her favorite colors. Conner added sparkles to it because she loves sparkles.

When Conner wasn’t in the hospital she was visiting home. She said the first time she went home, she and her family went to dinner and a movie. Even though Conner doesn’t remember the movie she and her family watched, she does remember the first time dancing after she was diagnosed.

Conner’s doctors worked together to get her strong enough to be able to dance in that year’s Christmas recital. Once she was strong enough she danced to Wheel of the World with her “dance girls.” Along with being able to dance, she was also able to come home and spend time with her family for Christmas. She described her first Christmas since the diagnosis as the best Christmas ever.

“My whole family got to together and that was what was special to me. Being home with my family is all I wanted,” Conner said. After being home for a month, though, Conner was sent back to the hospital. When she went back, she completed her last round of chemotherapy within a month, including recovery. After her last round, she was sent home for good.

Now, she is cancer-free, but has to go back every three months and gets her blood drawn at the Children’s Clinic at Duke. When asked how it felt at the end of her journey she said, “Words can’t describe how thankful I am to be where I am today. None of this would have been possible without God. I think it’s safe to say that I am blessed.”

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