On Thursday, August 27th, 2015, Ashley’s mom, Dee Benton, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) which a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It is an aggressive cancer that gets worse quickly if not treated. It would be weeks before Ashley’s family would know the subtype and prognosis of her mom’s AML, but the doctors started an intense form of chemotherapy the same day as diagnosis. There was no time to waste. Unfortunately, after two rounds of treatment, Ashley’s mom was not getting better. The subtype of AML she was finally diagnosed with had a very, very, poor prognosis. Ashley’s mom’s only chance for a cure would have been a stem cell transplant. Dee’s team of doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital would only attempt a stem cell transplant if she could achieve a complete remission. Because her first two rounds of chemo didn’t work, the doctors started a third round with a different drug. Dee would need a minimum of two rounds of this new drug, but she passed away on December 21st, 2015 before those two rounds had been completed. She was only 116 days into her fight.
Although there have been many advances over the years in treating blood cancers, AML is not one of them. As a matter of fact, Acute Myeloid Leukemia is the greatest challenge of all the blood cancers. It is the most commonly diagnosed and the deadliest of all leukemias. The standard treatment for AML is over 40 years old, and frankly does not work. Nearly 75% of all patients die from the disease within 5 years. We have to do better – now.