Emily Celedonia – Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Emily Celedonia is enjoying the life of a teen. She talks on the phone with her friends, takes gymnastics and piano lessons, and shops for her favorite fashion item: accessories. Surely she will remember these as fun and carefree times.

What Emily doesn’t remember well is the months of struggle and treatment when, at age 6, she was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

“She misses some of the people at the hospital,” says her dad, Tom Celedonia. “But her young age and the medication faded a lot of the memories.”

Emily was in Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC periodically for almost two years while doctors used a bone marrow transplant to eliminate the cancer in her blood. Emily’s 4-year-old sister Stephanie was her marrow donor.

“The staff made it as easy as possible on her mom and me — they put Stephanie in a room right next to Emily’s,” says Mr. Celedonia. “They let our son visit, too; and they even helped us find a way to handle our bills when my wife had to take a leave from her job.”

Today, Emily has been weaned from antirejection drugs and, in fact, takes no medications. “She just takes up space,” teases her dad.

His good humor is well-deserved. The availability of a high-quality pediatric cancer program was essential, but the tremendous effort of the whole Celedonia family helped Emily reach remission.