“What do you tell your nine year old when they ask you if they are going to die,” said Karen Foller. For most parents, this question is one they will never have to answer. For Karen, this question was only the beginning of a lifelong journey.
Autumn Foller was a third grader at Mazie Gable Elementary School when she suddenly developed a bad cough. Autumn’s parents took her to the doctor for what they thought was a case of pneumonia. On August 7, 2012, Autumn and her family went to see her doctor for a diagnosis.
After scanning Autumn’s chest, doctors called her and her family into a private room to deliver the news. What they thought was a mild case of pneumonia was actually cancer.
Autumn was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a form of blood cancer that causes the body’s bone marrow to produce an excessive amount of white blood cells. Autumn’s doctors sent her to Hershey Children’s Hospital to be treated.
Autumn was admitted and began treatment on August 8, 2012. Over the next few days, a broviac port was implanted in her chest to administer medication and receive blood.
Autumn was soon classed as a “slow responder” to her chemo, and her body refused to accept the treatment. Doctors changed the treatment plan and she was placed on a new set of medications that worked for her.
Seven weeks total were spent in the hospital receiving rigorous chemotherapy treatments. After the third week, Autum began to lose her hair.
“The nurses at Hershey always kept Autumn in great spirits,” remembers Karen Foller, Autumn’s mother. “She never showed signs of giving up or stopping fighting.. Today Autumn is well and you can’t really tell of the journey we have been through.”
In May 2013, Autumn had the opportunity for her wish to be granted by the Make-A-Wish foundation. She chose to go to Philadephia to meet Monday night RAW wrestler John Cena.
Penn State York’s THON group sponsors Autumn, along with other children and their families. She and her family have attended THON in Penn State the past two years, and she’s even had the chance to be on main stage several times. The Foller family also went to Red Lion’s Mini-THON in 2013 and 2014.
Mini-THON 2015 will be dedicated to Autumn’s battle. Red Lion is sponsoring her and her family in the fight against childhood cancer. “Autumn is determined to beat Leukemia,” says her mother. “She wants to continue to give back to families and show that they’re not alone in their fight.”
Today, Autumn is eleven years old and in fifth grade. She continues to receive treatment at Hershey Medical Center, but will be officially declared cancer-free in May 2015.