Abigail Hinkie is a fighter.

On June 15, 2015, Abby, as her friends and family call her, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. A normal six-year-old, Abby showed no symptoms leading up to her diagnosis other than a mild fever and a hurt knee. 

“[Earlier in the month] our city and parish were having record flooding, but we were on our way to go bowling,” recalled Abby’s mother, Amanda, from Shreveport. “As we were turning (our car) into the bowling alley we were rear-ended by a big truck. The car was totaled but we were all okay.”

That was just a few days before Abby’s diagnosis, and her mother attributed the wreck to Abby complaining about her knee.   

“I almost told her to take some Tylenol and stop complaining. I am so glad I didn’t,” she said.

Amanda took her daughter to the hospital and after a few hours, was told she had a very progressed leukemia. 

“Stay calm,
don’t be scared.
St Jude is going to take
care of everything.”

“Her blood was 93 percent cancer and I had no idea she was that sick,” said Amanda. Immediately following Abby’s diagnosis, she was air lifted to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis for treatment.

That was four years ago. Today Abby is in remission. She finished her treatment in January 2018.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of childhood cancer. About 3,000 people younger than age 20 are found to have ALL each year in the United States according to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital website.

“Abby is lucky they have found successful treatments for her specific type of cancer. However, she has experienced terrible side effects and who knows what other side effects will show up years from now,” said her mother. “Still she is fortunate.”

Amanda says the biggest piece of advice she can give to parents going through diagnosis and treatment is to just be honest with your child and keep the conversation open. 

“Most times children handle it better than the adults. When Abby started losing her hair, I think I cried about it more than she did,” she said. “I hadn’t talked to her or asked if she knew her hair was going to fall out, but I was worried she was going to be really upset.”

Abby handled her chemotherapy and radiation treatments like a champion. And yes, while she did lose her hair, she kept an upbeat attitude. 

“St. Jude is awesome and my favorite thing at St. Jude is the nurses because they are so nice to me,” said Abby. She also said that if she was talking to a child who just found out they have cancer she would tell them, “Stay calm, don’t be scared. St Jude is going to take care of everything.”

Find more information about St. Jude’s Research Hospital and what you can do to help at www.stjude.org.