Eevie Elouise, now 3 weeks old, was given her name before birth.
By a few hours after her delivery, she had already grown into its meaning.
“The name means ‘life warrior,’” her mother, Brynne Mulloy, said. A photograph of the pink-cheeked newborn showing the IV lines that carry her chemotherapy helped to explain. Snug under a blue hospital blanket, she appeared to rest peacefully.
Just hours after her Nov. 10 birth, doctors diagnosed Wichita infant Eevie Elouise Mulloy with congenital acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a rare childhood blood cancer that affects 1 in every 5 million newborns.
Typical onset of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children occurs after age 2. In infant cases, the disease is undetectable in utero and is diagnosed within the first few weeks of life.
Brynne Mulloy and Eevie’s father, Ryan Mulloy, who married in June 2012, say they expected a life full of quiet family moments and diaper changes at home after Eevie’s birth. Cancer was not on their minds.
“It was wham, bam, total shock,” Brynne said of their daughter’s diagnosis. “It was a very healthy pregnancy. I had several ultrasounds. She (Eevie) passed with flying colors.
“There’s no way that we could have possibly known, even with an amnio(centesis).”
The Mulloys said concern over their unborn daughter’s reduced movement drew them to the Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph on Nov. 10. She usually kicked and fluttered after lunchtime, Ryan said. But even a shopping excursion for last-minute baby necessities didn’t coax an unborn Eevie to move.
After some tests, doctors admitted Brynne to the hospital. Not long after, Eevie was born via emergency cesarean section. And joy replaced worry.
“We’d waited a year and a half for a baby,” said Brynne, who recently completed her doctorate of psychology and was set to graduate in December, then look for work.
This year, Ryan had joined the Wichita Police Department. His police academy graduation was Nov. 22.
“She was really healthy and really responsive,” Ryan said, recalling his daughter’s birth.
His wife added: “Everything was just falling into place.”
But then the couple noticed unexplained bruising on their newborn’s body, and a test showed her blood sugar levels were low. When a count of Eevie’s infection-fighting white blood cells came back nearly 38 times higher than normal – a tell-tale sign of leukemia – their excitement slipped back to worry.
“They rushed her to neonatal intensive care” at St. Joseph, Ryan said. An hour later, doctors said they were going to fly Eevie to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.
“It happened so fast,” he said.
At the Missouri children’s hospital, Eevie takes four kinds of chemotherapy daily. She’s undergone a blood transfusion and receives donor platelets several times a week. Her kidneys failed once. Constant medications make it difficult for her to breath and swallow.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, doctors told the family Eevie’s chance of surviving until age 2 was about 20 percent. When she’s older, she faces a high risk of developing other cancers and brain tumors.
Treatment costs are expected in the millions.
But the couple say they are thankful.
On Saturday, for the third consecutive day, Eevie was “doing really well,” her parents said.
The hospital nurses nicknamed her “Pterodactyl,” they added, “because she’s strong and cute and dramatic.”
“She is really alert,” Ryan said. “The last three days have been so much better.”
It will be at least five months before doctors release Eevie from the hospital. The Mulloys are looking forward to that day.
“I’d give anything just to wash her dirty pajamas in our washing machine at home,” Brynne said.
And to witness a temper tantrum. And mop up messes and spills. And to change dozens of diapers, she said.
“But every day we have her is just one more day with her.”