Treatment for leukemia causes a severe reduction in the effectiveness of the patients' immune system until it recovers from the first stage of chemotherapy treatment. This gives infectious agents including aspergillus fungi a 'window of opportunity' that they are more than happy to climb through.
Bacterial infections are common in this situation but antibiotic treatments are so effective and plentiful these do not normally cause too much of a problem. Fungal infections such as aspergillus are a different story.
Fungal infections have to be treated using one of a limited number of antifungal drugs. Some of these are quite toxic and cannot be used for some patients e.g. those with impaired kidney or liver function. This cuts the choice down further. More modern antifungals tend to be very expensive which can make then unattractive to use! On top of all this there is difficulty getting antifungals into the brain as there is a blood/brain barrier that prevents easy passage of drugs into the brain. How do fungi cross this barrier? It isn't really known for sure but one possibility is that it simply grows across it using the ability of its hyphae to 'push' through tissue.
Abby's mum Sandra commented:
When my husband first contacted Dr. Denning in 1999 and he told him about a five year old boy that had survived aspergillus that was a great deal of encouragement for me. I hope Abby's story of hope and success will help other families who are in need of that encouragement. It is an amazing story to be told.
I have to say that it was a long journey to get to where she is today. One can't imagine how delighted we all are that she is with us and how much progress she has made after her brain injury. She is still improving daily. There definitely is a life after cancer and a brain injury.I don't think there is anything to add to that!