GR Mom Fights Rare Leukemia; Tries to Save Unborn Child

Posted at 10:36 PM, Dec 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-29 23:07:03-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – At 5 months pregnant, Alyssa Gale-Mitchell rests in the hospital in Ann Arbor.

“If it weren’t for me being pregnant, I wouldn’t have come into the hospital, and I wouldn’t have ever known,” Alyssa Gale-Mitchell, of Grand Rapids said.

She calls her unborn child her “miracle baby.”

In early December, she came down with a cold or so she thought. It got progressively worse. Doctors at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital found fluid on her lungs.

“They’d seen abnormal white blood cells, which means leukemia,” Gale-Mitchell said.

To make matters worse, it’s a rare, aggressive form of leukemia called acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  She said doctors told her only three known cases had occurred in Michigan.

She’s also pregnant. Though, doctors suggested Alyssa terminate her pregnancy.

“She told me, ‘Mom that’s murder. I can’t,’ and she got really depressed,” Melissa Gale, Alyssa’s mom said.

“It was like, whoa, we need to send you to U of M, we don’t know how to do this,” Gale-Mitchell said.

Determined to save her life and keep her baby, Alyssa’s undergoing chemotherapy at the University of Michigan Hospital.

The treatment depletes her immune system and she can’t have any physical contact with people, including her two year old son Daetyn.

It’s been difficult, but she said Christmas brought the two together.

“He knows that mom is sick and doctors are taking care of her. He’s dealing with that pretty well, but it’s kind of hard for him to understand why mom and dad’s not here,” Lori Carter, Alyssa’s mother-in-law said.

“Her husband has not left her side and won’t leave her side,” she said.

Alyssa married her husband, Jonathon, in the hospital a week and a half ago. That was shortly after her diagnosis.

Before she starts taking more aggressive medications, doctors will induce labor early. The hope is to give her unborn child “Scott” a chance at life.

“They are my inspiration. I have to beat this. There’s no questions about it. My kids need their mommy,” Gale-Mitchell said.

With her family’s support, Alyssa says this trial changed her for the better. “It’s helped me realize that life’s not about material things, at all,” she said.

As she fights to survive and save her baby, she wants the public to learn from her story.

“What I want to say, especially for people who are diagnosed with this or will be diagnosed with this in the future, is that there is hope,” she said.

“There is a lot of hope. You know and especially here at U of M. They are amazing, and they specialize in leukemia, and I really think coming here is saving my life,” Gale-Mitchell said.

She said doctors determined she may have had the disease for about two months before being diagnosed. She believes they caught it early enough to save her life.