Twins Addison and Ashlyn Whipple arrived on May 19, 2006. Despite their size, weighing only 3lbs. 6 oz. and 2 lbs. 12 oz. respectively, the girls were both healthy. After spending almost a month in the Blank Children's Hospital NICU, Addison and Ashlyn were able to go home with their parents, Lynn and Joan. Bringing the twins home was a wonderful, exciting time. But, in October 2006, Addison's health started to decline.
On October 9, Addison spiked a fever. Although her hemoglobin was low, doctors believed the fever was likely due to a virus. However, on November 1 during a developmental screening at Blank Children's, a tumor was discovered, and Addison was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma cancer.
Addison's battle against cancer began with six rounds of chemotherapy. From there, she had various surgeries and many hospital stays due to complications and infections in her line, a stem cell transplant, feeding issues and more. But, Addison fought through it all.
Just as Addison was nearing the end of her treatment, Lynn and Joan got more devastating news - Ashlyn, too, had Neuroblastoma. Ashlyn underwent the same protocol as Addison, but she was unable to recover. In August 2008, Ashlyn passed away due to complications from her stem cell transplant. The loss affected the whole family.
"Even though Ashlyn was with us for such a short time, she did touch a lot of lives," said Joan. "I'm a firm believer in the twin connection. The girls shared their own language. Addison still talks about Ashlyn and tells us she plans on giving her sister a big hug when she gets to Heaven."
Joan and Lynn are thankful for the support her family received from not only family and friends, but Blank Children's Hospital as well.
"If it wasn't for the great nursing staff, doctors and Child Life staff, we would not have been able to have gotten through the experience."
Today, Addison is five years post-treatment, and her chances of a Neuroblastoma re-occurrence are decreasing each year. Although she has the possibility of other issues, such as hearing loss, Addison is an active, inquisitive 6-year-old who has many hobbies, including school, soccer, softball and watching football with her dad. She especially likes to cheer on the "cy-ca-lones."
"I know Addison is an inspiration to other children facing this disease," said Joan. "To see her doing well gives them hope."