NEWPORT — The Newport community banded together Monday for a big ‘Welcome Home’ greeting for one of their own who is fighting acute myeloid leukemia (AML) after being diagnosed in August just a few weeks before beginning her sophomore year at Newport High School.
Makaylie Gray, who turned 16 just two days ago, arrived home in Newport Monday afternoon from aggressive treatments for her onset of leukemia that has a 27% survival rate, according to her cousin Wendy Fadden.
To show support, friends, family and members of the local community held a surprise gathering as a panoply for their collective aid in her recovery.
Less than three weeks before school was slated to start, Makaylie Gray said she woke up with a stomach ache and couldn’t keep down fluids.
“I went to my mom and told her that my stomach hurt really bad,” recalled Makaylie. “I was throwing up everything I was drinking and I couldn’t keep anything down.”
Soon thereafter, her mother, Lisa Trombley, took her daughter to Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont.
A short while later after blood tests and an ultrasound, the doctors said Gray needed to go to Boston’s Children’s Hospital immediately.
Initially, Trombley replied that the family would need to think about it and talk it over. But, the doctor said there was no time to talk, according to Trombley’s cousin, Wendy Fadden.
Gray was subsequently transported by ambulance and soon slipped into a coma.
“I don’t like tight spaces. I was in the CT machine and I panicked,” she said.
Hours later, Gray came to after being put on life support.
Gray needed a bone marrow transplant due to the fact that AML aggressively attacks the body’s white blood cells. Two fundraisers and three months later, a donor was found on the registry.
Today, Gray has survived the 27% recovery rate and her body has successfully accepted the bone marrow transplant.
“You just have to keep going and keep up the fight,” Gray said about the toll AML has taken on her body.
Gray said her teachers have been supportive while she is out of school and her classmates as well as faculty have stayed in touch with cards, notes and hospital visits.
Gray’s brother, Dustin, went into shock at the hospital and wondered why it was her and not him who was diagnosed with AML.
“I got to the hospital and I thought ‘Hey, it’s Haley sitting in the bed.’ I tell you what it was, at first, I was in denial.”
For Trombley, the hardest part was letting someone else care for her daughter and trusting other people.
“I had to leave the trust in somebody else’s hands to take care of my daughter and just sit there.”
Feelings of helplessness took over Gray, and her parents Lisa Trombley and Joshua Gray said it was the hardest thing they had ever faced.
“To watch your child go through something like this. You just feel helpless. You feel hopeless,” said Trombley. “Emotions take over. You’re angry and you are just there watching your child fight for her life. I pray for a good outcome.”
The community outreach has made it easier for Trombley to deal with the battle.
“[Friends and family] put on a raffle and the school has been really decent with her schooling.”
Trombley echoed what people in the community have said about Gray and her unique personality. Gray plays the alto flute in the Newport High School band.
“She is spontaneous and she has got a lot of spunk. She can be very sarcastic and she will tell you like it is,” Trombley said. “My daughter took on the devil and she won.”