Pennies for Powell: Putting a face onto an ARS cancer survivor


Lily DiFrank

On March 3rd, (add year here) Mary Elizabeth (M.E.) Powell (9) woke up with a sore throat and didn’t think much of it. She brushed it off, as well as the lack of energy, as allergies. On March 4th, she knew something was wrong. Powell’s energy was drained barely being able to make it from her car to her doctor’s office just to get tested for strep. She tested negative for strep and mono, so they drew blood and waited for a call. Later on that day, Powell got a phone call from her mom telling her to pack a bag for the hospital; they wanted to do some additional testing.


On the journey from her house to the hospital, her mother started talking about her blood and bone marrow. All of the levels were not where they should be. Immediately her mind shot to leukemia, expecting the worst. Finally, they got the word that Powell did in fact have AML leukemia. The very next day she started chemotherapy with her friends, family, and team of supporting doctors.


Going through chemotherapy was not all rainbows and sunshine. Your immune system gets knocked down because of the radiation, which makes you vulnerable to getting sick very easily. Unfortunately, during the third round that Powell had to undergo, she got very sick and fluid began to fill up in her lungs. She was put into a medically induced coma and was also put on an ecmomachine which helps circulate oxygen and blood through the body. Powell was in the ICU for two weeks with a 20% survival rate.


One of the happiest moments in Powell’s journey was getting out of the ICU, because it lifted a lot of weight off of everyone’s shoulders. The entire time she was in the ICU, M.E.’s friends, family, and team of doctors were worried about how things would turn out.


Another thing that made her happy was Pennies for Patients, an organization that student have been donating to for two weeks. Pennies for patients helps support patients and their family throughout the process of fighting cancer. Pennies for Patients also works with an organization called Big Love. Big Love visits patients every week, and goes to the store to get patients things that will make them feel joyful and more at home. The patients could say that they wanted a Gatorade or a magazine, and next time they went out they would bring the patient back what they wanted and make their day a little brighter. Pennies for Patients also helps when it comes to helping pay for a bag of chemo or a shot, or even something like paying the mortgage on a patient’s house; anything to help the family keep moving forward and with a little more peace of mind.


Finally after six long months of Powell trying to get better, she left the hospital to go back to the cozy and welcoming environment of her home sweet home.  
“You kind of take your health for granted when you’re so healthy, because it’s not a big deal that you can walk around, and you can sit in class all day,” Powell said.  “When you have to stay in a hospital bed all day every day you realize, like, how much you have and how thankful you should be.”