Meet Audrey Turner
"Perspective" is a word always present in my home. We see things differently than most. We don't sweat the small things, we celebrate them.
Bright vibrant colors on the walls, floors, and furniture greet you with unexpected joy. Through the windows, you see a panoramic view of the city skyline. If you’re lucky, you will catch a glimpse of the helicopter. I hear the familiar voices of staff as they offer greetings and words of encouragement. I see the understanding eyes and a kind nod or smile of parents and children as we pass in the hallways. Ring, ring, ring ….THAT’S the sound of VICTORY! There are so many victories, big and small, celebrated here. Welcome to Levine Children’s Hematology Oncology Clinic.
In fifth grade, I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). The term “chronic” means that it is slower growing than other acute leukemias. “Myelogenous” describes the type of cell affected, an increase of white blood cells in my blood. CML is most commonly diagnosed in older males and very rarely in children. I experienced fatigue, leg pain despite no known injury, and an overwhelming need to chew ice. My medically-minded Mom grew concerned with this combination of symptoms and made sure to get me to the pediatrician. This began my cancer journey, a path I did not choose, but one I would not change.
Perspective is often described as “the way you see things as a result of who you are and what you do, the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance”.
Remember the stars on the ceiling when you step off the elevator? For me, they represent hope. I have found hope in medical advancements and the passion of my medical team for doing what they love. My diagnosis fostered a strong foundation of faith. I trust in God’s greater plan for my life. The brightly colored walls, floors, and furniture have provided me with comfort, a canvas of positivity, and a soft place to land. I see the joy in this unexpected place and many ordinary moments. The hustle and bustle outside the clinic serve as a reminder of a medical community, brilliant minds, and experts changing the lives of people in our city. Patients from various backgrounds and life experiences are all part of the same courageous group for this moment in time inside of the clinic walls. I have learned to slow down and pay attention to people and the details around me. I also reach for my goals in life just as the buildings reach for the sky in the panoramic view of my city. The comfort of those familiar voices and their encouraging words are also an important part of my treatment. The clinic staff has become like family. Laughter is a welcomed distraction from the battery of tests and routine procedures performed here. Ring, ring ….VICTORY for me came with ‘undetectable’ philadelphia chromosomes. My treatment plan seven years ago started with a medication called Gleevec. Someone before me participated in a clinical trial that turned out to be a modem-day medical miracle with such success, it came out of the trial early for FDA approval. I also have been allowed to participate in a clinical trial, the first of its kind in the pediatric CML population. I too am paving a way for the future of CML treatment in children. I wanted to be able to give back just as others have before me.
My journey began that day with a hospitalization, a battery of tests, and a lifetime membership to the childhood cancer club. Cancer does not discriminate. The disease welcomed me into a “family” of courageous, brave fighters. We have found comfort and indescribable peace in a clinic among medical professionals that ironically delivered the most devastating news on that September day. “Perspective” is a word always present in my home. We see things differently than most. We don’t sweat the small things, we celebrate them.