INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WLFI) - Nearly 260 children are diagnosed with cancer in Indiana each year and a one-year-old girl from Lafayette is one of them, fighting for her life against cancer.
Aubrey Deno was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) a month ago, when she was just 13 months old. ALL is a cancer of the blood which affects the white blood cells.
"I call her my little pistol. She has a lot of energy. She is fun-loving, always smiling, and really, kind of just goes with the punches," explained Aubrey's father Dustin Deno. "I think that has helped in her fight."
It was just over a month ago when little Aubrey Deno fell down a step, causing her chin to bruise. Her parents Dustin and Lacey took Aubrey to the doctor because the bruise concerned them. That's when they found out Aubrey has ALL.
Her first round of chemotherapy, which doctors say puts cancer into remission 95% of the time, didn't work.
"The first round of chemo, she was a champ. Absolutely no difference in her personality," Dustin Deno said.
"That is how they knew. They had a really good feeling that it wasn't working. It was having zero effects (on her), side effects," explained Aubrey's mother Lacey Deno.
Doctors at Riley Hospital now are trying a more aggressive type of chemo which they have only performed on one other child at the hospital.
Now it's a waiting game for Dustin, Lacey, Aubrey, big sister Jillian, and the rest of the Deno family to see if this chemo treatment will work.
Doctors plan to give Aubrey a bone marrow aspiration, a test which will let doctors know if the cancer is in Aubrey's bone marrow.
"We are in limbo. We have no idea what our next steps are going to be until this bone marrow aspiration in a couple of weeks. That is going to hold our future," Lacey Deno explained. "All the doctors, they told us, would have to sit down and discuss their next move because they don't know what they will do."
Dustin and Lacey Deno said Aubrey will most likely have a bone marrow transplant. A bone marrow transplant is the process of removing bone marrow damaged by disease or high-dose chemotherapy and replacing it with healthy bone marrow. There is a 25 percent chance Aubrey's sister Jillian will be a match for Aubrey and just a 2 percent chance Aubrey's parents will be a match. 70 percent of people who need a bone marrow transplant will not find a match in their family and will depend on a registry.
Approximately four out of ten people who need a bone marrow transplant get one.
Throughout the uncertainty, the family can rely on Aubrey's infectious smile.
"She has had major impact on people who have never even met her. It has affected a lot of people," Lacey Deno said.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and the Deno family wants people to understand how key awareness really is.
"We are going to do - going forward - to kind of pay it forward to other kids. Hopefully, parents won't have to go through this," Dustin Deno said. "The kids up here are just remarkable. It is literally the most inspiring place I've ever been a part of. Each day, these kids fight and fight and go through so much. We go to bed each night thinking we are just so blessed because of the people who have come out to help us and Aubrey."
Friends and family of the Deno family will be holding a kickball benefit to help raise money for the family. The Aubrey Deno Kickball Benefit will be on Saturday, October 9 at Brunton Park in Brook, Indiana. The kickball tournament begins at 8:00 a.m. central standard time. The entry fee is $10.00 per person or $100.00 per team of ten. There will also be activities all day long for children and a raffle, 50/50 drawing, auction and street dancing.
Monetary donations can also be made to: Aubrey Deno Medical Fund c/o Community State Bank, Brook Indiana 47922.
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