Story of Healing
In 2019, Kim Pierson, mom to Ashlynn Carlock, shared a letter with Children’s Hospital about Ashlynn’s battle with cancer and the care Children’s Hospital provided to Ashlynn and her family, who live in Holden, LA, in Livingston Parish.
“On most days, you wouldn’t be able to tell that Ashlynn has cancer, were it not for the long, wavy brown hair she lost when she began cancer treatment. Ashlynn was diagnosed in June of 2018 with Wilms’ tumor, a form of kidney cancer, and is being treated at Children’s Hospital New Orleans,” wrote Kim. “After several rounds of radiation and chemotherapy, Ashlynn is well on her way to becoming cancer free.”
Shortly after that letter, around Thanksgiving of 2019, Ashlynn underwent a stem cell transplant. At the time of Kim’s original letter, they were hopeful that the transplant would go smoothly, and that Ashlynn would be ready to go home by Christmas Eve.
However, Ashlynn’s recovery was not smooth at first. After receiving the stem cell transplant, it was all hands on deck, recalled Kim. Ashlynn’s condition was touch and go.
“Even though I was panicking, it was nice to see that the doctors and nurses were not all rushing into her room panicking,” shared Kim. “But I knew it was serious. Everyone was wearing masks, but I could read it in their eyes.”
While it took a few days for Ashlynn to be stabilized, her recovery took a dramatic turn for the better. Ashlynn’s care team told Kim they would be going home sooner than originally anticipated.
“I was so confused at first,” said Kim. “You mean that my child, who was knocking on heaven’s door, is ready to go home in a couple days?”
Kim shared that the stem cells worked like they were supposed to. When Ashlynn’s condition declined after the transplant, it was the stem cells that helped her body recover and become strong again.
Ashlynn’s remarkable recovery allowed Kim to surprise her older daughter and attend her wedding in Tennessee in early December 2019, which was very special to their family.
Kim’s words in her original letter still ring true today: “I am grateful for our Children’s Hospital family who, every day, give us something extraordinary to celebrate. When I became a mother, I never imagined that this would be my story to share. But I am grateful Ashlynn’s story is one of hope and promise…, thanks to the extraordinary caregivers at Children’s Hospital and friends in our community like you.”
“I cannot say enough about how wonderful Ashlynn’s doctors and the whole staff were to her and our family,” shared Kim in a more recent conversation about how Ashlynn is doing post-transplant.
One story that has stuck with Kim is when she was brushing Ashlynn’s hair as it was falling out and even though Kim tried to hide it from her, Ashlynn noticed. Just then, one of Ashlynn’s nurses, Brittany, walked in.
“Brittany, my hair is falling out!” said Ashlynn. Kim was trying not to break down in tears, she remembered. But Brittany sprang into action. “That’s because you’re taking superhero medicine. Sometimes, when you take superhero medicine, things have to go away to come back stronger.” Brittany then suggested Ashlynn come join a dance party at the nurses’ station so Kim could have a moment to collect herself.
“It was those types of things that meant a lot to me,” shared Kim.
“Ashlynn has been doing great ever since her stem cell transplant! She is eight-years-old now, and loves to go school. She always has a smile on her face,” said Kim. “And when you meet her, she’s a child you won’t soon forget.”
Learn more about Children’s Hospital’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, and how they care for kids like Ashlynn here.