As the youngest of five siblings, Addie Johnson knows the importance of a strong will.
“She’s not going to let anyone push her around,” said Natalie Johnson, Addie’s mom. “She has a lot of fight in her, and I’m grateful for that trait because she needs it right now.”
Addie, 5, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on April 10, 2019. A few days earlier, the Montgomery City girl began feeling pain in her legs and arms. She visited her pediatrician, who ordered bloodwork and X-rays.
It didn’t take long for the Johnson family to learn the results.
“The doctor’s office called us pretty quickly and told us to come back to the clinic, and I just knew that something was not right,” Natalie said. “When we got there, they told us Addie might have lymphoma or leukemia.”
A bone marrow biopsy confirmed Addie had ALL, one of the most common childhood cancers.
“This was the best of the worst news that we could have received,” Natalie said. “We were very relieved to learn she had a common cancer with a high survival rate.”
Addie initially visited Children’s Hospital’s Blood Disorder and Cancer Unit every week for chemotherapy before switching to the “maintenance” phase of her treatment, which included monthly visits to the clinic to ensure the cancer did not grow back.
“Things started out rough,” Natalie said. “At first, Addie would just sit on my lap and not do much of anything during our visits. But she has come a long way since then. She’s now acting like her normal self. The doctors and nurses really work hard to make her comfortable, to make her smile, and to bring joy to the situation. I've been very thankful for that.”
During her hospital stay, Addie enjoyed singing with MU Health Care's music therapist and petting therapy dogs. The Johnsons attribute Addie’s progress to their support system and positive outlook. Addie finished treatment in June of 2021.
“We've had many people praying for us,” Natalie said. “God is giving us strength that we didn't know we could ever have when faced with something like this. My message to other parents is to not look at a cancer diagnosis as a hopeless situation, because it's not. We feel confident that Addie is going to overcome this and live a normal life.”