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Lodi’s Caitlyn Sprinkle resilient through cancer fight

Seven-year-old Caitlyn Sprinkle is all smiles as she faces the fight of her life

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Posted: Monday, June 25, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:33 am, Mon Jun 25, 2012.

Lodi resident Caitlyn Sprinkle has a smile that spreads widely across her face. She enjoys decorating cupcakes, likes the color pink and is obsessed with Disney princesses. But apart from that, Sprinkle is not your average child.

Instead of playing in the backyard after school every day or riding around on a bike, Sprinkle is confined to a 12- by 18-foot room in a Roseville hospital.

Everything has to be sanitized, and no one can see her if they have even a hint of a sniffle.

At just 7 years of age, Sprinkle — who will be heading into third grade in the fall at Lincoln Elementary School in Stockton — is in the fight of her life.

Sprinkle is in the midst of battling Acute myeloid leukemia, subtype 2, otherwise known as AML.

Acute myeloid leukemia is a fast-growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

In AML, the bone marrow makes many unformed cells called blasts. Blasts normally develop into white blood cells that fight infection.

However, the blasts are abnormal in AML. They do not develop and cannot fight infections. The bone marrow may also make abnormal red blood cells and platelets.

The number of abnormal cells (or leukemia cells) grows quickly. They crowd out the normal red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets the body needs.

And even though doctors believe AML is the most common type of acute leukemia, it is not without its struggles.

Sprinkle was diagnosed after her mother, Becky Sprinkle, took her to the doctor when her daughter complained of leg pains and being tired back in January.

Becky Sprinkle chalked it up to growing pains and a lingering flu, but at the doctor's office, she realized her daughter had red spots around her eyes. After some consultation, Caitlyn Sprinkle was rushed to Dameron Hospital in Stockton, where she was diagnosed.

She was then transported to Roseville Women and Children's Hospital, where she has remained to go through chemotherapy treatments to help beat her illness.

The road to recovery has not been easy, however.

Sprinkle has lost her beautiful head of brown hair, and the first two rounds of chemotherapy and the sepsis — along with developing strep throat while in the hospital — has left Sprinkle with a weakened heart.

Doctors told the family the damage caused from chemotherapy is not repairable. And though the damage from the sepsis is repairable, it will take some time.

But even with those challenges, the Sprinkle family is hopeful that Caitlyn will be home just in time for her birthday in mid-August.

It has been a long time since she has been able to sleep in her own bed, read her favorite joke books or sit at the dinner table with her family.

But that time is coming.

There is a blood drive for Sprinkle today in Stockton. The drive, sponsored by Delta Blood Bank, will help with blood transfusions that Sprinkle will need while she is working her way towards remission.

Sprinkle will receive one final round of chemotherapy starting today. The drug will be infused twice a day for four days.

According to Sprinkle's mother, the last time her daughter received the type of chemotherapy she will receive on today, there were no side effects.

While some children could have cried and whined throughout the entire process, family friend and one of Sprinkle's former teachers Suzanne Wright said that with Sprinkle, that was not the case.

"Caitlyn is resilient," said Suzanne Wright. "Even with this illness, she has stayed optimistic. She is a sweet little thing. And she is very loved."

Contact reporter Katie Nelson at katien@lodinews.com.

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