MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital patient Baylee Millett, 12, of Elkins has been named the 2022 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champion Child for West Virginia.
In April 2020 – during the first wave of lockdowns – Baylee was like any other 10-year-old kid: running, jumping, climbing trees, and playing with friends in their outdoor “bubble.”
A few days after a canoeing trip, Baylee started complaining that her feet hurt. Over the course of the next few nights, she would wake up crying in pain. Then, the pain moved into her knees. By Easter Sunday, she was limping, her knee was swollen, and she had swollen lymph nodes.
Baylee’s mom, Jodee Hensley, called their local quick clinic and was told to bring Baylee in for a few tests. Strep and mono came back negative, but the doctor had a gut feeling something wasn’t right and sent them to the ER. Upon seeing the results of Baylee’s blood draw, the ER physician recommended that she be transferred to WVU Medicine Children’s.
Baylee was admitted to the hospital, and the following day, the Oncology team gave them Baylee’s diagnosis: acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
The first round of treatment was rough for Baylee. She started losing her hair, and the steroids caused diabetes, which needed to be managed by checking her sugars and counting her carbs. Baylee took it all in stride, working toward her goal of getting home to her siblings.
“Baylee was always in a good mood, even when things were really rough for her,” Patrick Tomboc, D.O., pediatric oncologist at WVU Medicine Children’s, said. “She was steadfast in wanting to get better and focused on getting through therapy.”
After her first three weeks of treatment in the hospital, Baylee was discharged and allowed to continue her treatment on an outpatient basis. She went home with a PICC line and needed to check her sugar levels at 2 a.m. every night, but Baylee didn’t mind.
“She was so excited to come home and see everyone,” Jodee said. “Her looks had changed so much even in three weeks. Her belly was swollen, and her hair was thin and falling out, but she was home.”
Baylee was thrilled to be an outpatient – she wanted to stay out of the hospital at all costs. However, in November 2020, Baylee was admitted again to the hospital during her last round of treatment.
“Her body just had enough,” Nick Millett, Baylee’s dad, said. “She had a fever, which turned into an infection that caused a terrible rash. She was in the hospital for more than three weeks over Thanksgiving.”
In early 2021, Baylee moved into the maintenance phase of her treatment, where she currently remains. She sees her oncology team once a month for bloodwork and any medication adjustments.
“We’re very optimistic about Baylee’s survival,” Dr. Tomboc said. “After she completes treatment, we’ll see her once a month for the first year and then watch her less closely as her risk decreases. Her outlook is really good.”
Shortly after starting the maintenance phase – and only a month after being discharged from her extended hospital stay – Baylee was back on the ski slopes with her friends.
Baylee’s active lifestyle makes her parents proud and overcome with gratitude that her story has ended positively.
“Baylee’s cancer has made everyone stronger,” Nick said. “Baylee can now face any challenge in her future and overcome it. She got through this; she can get through anything.”
For more information on WVU Medicine Children’s, visit WVUKids.com.