Zoe Ashton's smile lights up a room, even a cancer treatment room. She's a fighter and is in the beginning stages of her battle with Leukemia and is determined to be a survivor.
September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Every year the team at Dell Children' Blood and Cancer Center diagnoses, on average, 84 new cases of childhood cancer.
Ashton is one of the center's new patients. In May, as her freshman year of high school was wrapping up, Ashton felt weak and not her normal self.
"Normal for me is super energetic always active and busy," described Ashton.
"The second I heard her white cell number I knew my life had changed," said Don Ashton, Zoe's dad.
Ashton was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia also known as ALL. She spent several days in a coma and the intensive care unit.
"I'm not going to fluff this up cancer is a struggle and a battle," Ashton said during a recent visit with her doctor.
Approximately 30 percent of children diagnosed with cancer have Leukemia according to Dr. Amy Fowler, Ashton's doctor.
On average the clinic sees 1,148 patient visits each month. That number sounds high because some of the patients receive several treatments a week.
Dr. Fowler wants to see more money dedicated to pediatric cancer research and one day a cure. "In my ideal world I wouldn't have a job and we'd be able to cure all these kids and have a 100 percent survival rate," Dr. Fowler said.
Zoe's dreams are big. With a passion for theater and choir she hopes to take center stage someday.
"I've just got to fight this and it's not just me. It's my parents, family, friends and my supporters, the people here at the clinic and hospital. Everyone is helping me get through it and fight it.," said Ashton. She has about two more years left in her treatment course. Dr. Fowler says Zoe and her family have every reason to be hopeful for long term survival.
Ashton's battle plan? Live life one day and one hug at a time.
For more information, visit www.childrensaustin.org/cmcf/september-childhood-cancer-awareness-month.