When 20-month-old Taylor Grace Nguyen became sick, her parents knew it was much more severe than what doctors originally thought.
Still, neither Craig nor Shana Nguyen imagined their little girl would be handed the diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia.
“We kept trying to convince ourselves we were just caught up in a nightmare and we would eventually wake up,” Shana said.
The Brainerd residents would soon find out just how real their situation was.
It all started with little Taylor Grace acting out of character. She cried when others touched her, treating her grandparents like strangers.
Taylor was clingy and very tired. Then a rash broke out.
Doctors at first attributed the red splotches to chicken pox. But a few days later, after young Taylor started coughing and gagging, another doctor visit resulted in a blood test that showed she demonstrated signs of leukemia.
“It was very scary,” Shana said. “When you think of cancer, you don’t think of a child. It was totally unsuspected. We were caught off guard. It was obvious she was sick but cancer never crossed my mind.”
A benefit for the family is scheduled for Saturday at Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge, Deerwood.
Feeling lost, the family was sent to the Minneapolis Children’s Hospital for Taylor Grace’s first round of a strict and heavy chemotherapy regimen on June 25.
On round one, Taylor received 10 days of chemo. On round two, she received eight days of chemo.
She just started her third round, which could be followed by two more.
Each round means a month-long hospital stay, with a week-long home stay after.
That was hard for Shana to accept at first. It meant her daughter wouldn’t see her house, her family, her favorite dog during hospital stays.
“There’s nothing better than the little bit of time we get at home,” Shana said.
The family takes each hospital test, each treatment, as they come.
“We take each day at a time and often every hour,” Shana said. “When things are intense, like a reaction to a platelet transfusion, I just hold my daughter and pray.”
Craig and Shana say it’s their daughter’s smile that keeps them strong.
“She’s beautiful and always will be,” Craig said. “Cancer can not and will not change who she is.”
For Taylor’s cancer, about 80 percent of children go into remission, but only half stay cancer-free.
She’s a resilient youngster, her spirit infectious.
Taylor smiles and welcomes doctors who pay daily visits. She’ll even help give the orders on how to do blood draws.
“She’s the smartest kid under age 2 you’ll ever meet,” Shana said. “You wouldn’t believe the strength of what a child can go through. She has a smile on her face and she’s going through these awful things. She’s a trouper, to say the least.”