Oklahoma Girl Diagnosed With Leukemia After Getting Swollen Face

A 4-year-old girl from Oklahoma who went to the doctor's multiple times for her unusually swollen face and was diagnosed with leukemia in the middle of the pandemic, has now been given the all-clear.

Uriya Hubbard's mother, Amber Hubbard, told Oklahoma News 4 that the doctors initially said it was just allergies. Eventually, after going five times in one month, the doctor listened to Uriya's heartbeat, immediately sending them to Oklahoma Children's Hospital. Uriya was then diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML).

"Before I could get her calmed down to do the CT scan, the doctor came in and said, 'Uriya has leukemia.' My world just stopped," Hubbard said. "What her doctor was actually hearing when he thought he heard a heart murmur was instead a mass above her heart that was restricting her superior vena cava."

AML is a fairly rare cancer, making up only about 1 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year. It's a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, affecting white blood cells called myeloid cells. When a mutation occurs, the bone marrow produces immature cells that develop into cancerous myeloblast white blood cells, which can build up and crowd out healthy cells. A swollen face isn't a normal symptom of AML, hence the initial confusion as to what was wrong with Uriya. More easily recognizable symptoms include fever, bone pain, tiredness, pale skin, frequent infections, easy bruising, and unusual bleeding from the nose or the gums.

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Stock image of a young girl in hospital. Uriya was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 4 years old. iStock / Getty Images Plus

AML needs urgent treatment. If left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body, including the liver, spleen or brain. Uriya underwent chemotherapy to treat her cancer for six months, during which her siblings weren't able to visit her due to COVID restrictions.

"The third round of chemo, she ended up in the ICU," Hubbard told Oklahoma News 4. "She was on a ventilator for a while. It was the worst time of my life."

Overall, 15 percent of people are expected to survive AML for five or more years. However, over half of people aged under 40 survive.

After treatment, Uriya's cancer slowly got better, before finally she was declared all clear. She will have regular check-ups to make sure that she remains cancer-free.

"We've been really blessed that she's responded so well to treatment. She missed out on Pre-K, missed out on the whole summer of 2021, but we're so thankful she's better now and can make memories from here on out," said Hubbard.