Morgan was diagnosed with B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia officially on July 2, 2018, at 17 years old, but she had been treating with her primary care physician for a couple of months for strep and back pain. It was her chiropractor, Michelle Stilwell from Coal Valley Chiropractic Clinic, who recognized something was wrong and requested an x-ray of Morgan’s lower back and to have her tested for Lyme disease. Before the test came back, Morgan collapsed on June 15, 2018 and was rushed to the hospital where they ran labs and tests. Pain medications were adjusted, and they were told that if the Lyme disease test comes back negative the next step would be testing for Lupus or RA; there were not many concerns other than her blood levels being elevated. The Lyme disease test came back negative. Morgan was tested for Lupus, RA, and had an MRI; all tests came back negative.
On June 27, 2018 Morgan went to the chiropractor again and this time Morgan lost her breath when her chest was adjusted. Right away Dr. Stilwell asked Morgan’s Mother (Lisa Schmidt LaBelle) to allow her to call her primary care physician and find out what tests had been done on Morgan because something was clearly wrong.
The very next morning Lisa called home at 7:30am, Morgan answered and was out of breath because she collapsed in the bathroom and was crawling to the living room. Morgan was taken to the ER and her primary care physician called ahead to request a CT Scan. Dr Philpot at Trinity had the CT scan ran and came into the room with the results. He said it looked like someone had taken an ice pick to Morgan’s bones and that her left shoulder, chest, back and pelvis had holes all over them. After a follow-up with the primary care physician, Morgan was referred to Dr. Garneau in Moline.
After Dr. Garneau’s examination of Morgan and discussion with him about her case he told us we had 2 choices: 1) Do nothing and Morgan will die or 2) Get all of her labs and scans and take her immediately to the emergency room at the Children’s Hospital in Iowa City as there was no one in the Quad Cities who would do a bone biopsy. The plan was to take Morgan to Iowa City first thing tomorrow and call to get all of her information from the doctors she had seen sent over and that Dr. Garneau would send all the information he had as well. As they went to leave, Morgan collapsed. Dr. Garneau placed her in a wheelchair and into Lisa’s truck and told them to go right back to Trinity across the street and get her to Iowa City by ambulance right away, he feared it could have gone to her brain.
Morgan was immediately transferred to the Children’s Hospital in Iowa City where Dr. Philpot’s wife was the ER doctor and was expecting them. Upon arrival, many tests were run on Morgan and she stayed for overnight observation. The doctors told Morgan and her family that they could not tell them what she had yet; they were sure it was cancer but did not know exactly what kind. The doctors had never seen this and needed time to work on her diagnosis. Morgan and her family were sent home on a Friday and told they would be contacted the next week and to be prepared to come back to Iowa City for a month. Morgan and her family started to head home and before they even got out of Iowa City they received a call to come back early Monday morning, to start treatment. Lisa said it was awful, Morgan was so sick and weak. They called family and friends to come over on Sunday to visit and she had her senior pictures taken before chemo took her hair.
July 2, 2018 Morgan and her tribe showed up at the hospital to help and support her as they placed her port. The doctor placing the port came into her recovery room to see how she was doing and talked with Morgan like she was his equal. The doctor turned to the family and said, “She is smart! Morgan when you are done with this treatment and go to school here, come back and you can be on my team!”
Morgan was officially diagnosed with B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She was at the hospital for 6 days and they said she was doing so great that she could go home and could come for treatments every week. Morgan is so smart and throughout her treatment she has been involved, asking questions, keeping notes, and researching.
Morgan graduated from Orion High School in May of 2019. Although she only attended a few days of her senior year at the school building, she did all of her homework at home through the internet and her tests were given to her by Megan Soliday, the teacher at the Stead Family Children’s Hospital. They have all worked together to make sure Morgan had everything she needed to graduate with her classmates, which she did.
The LaBelles are from a small community and have been shown a tremendous amount of support, love and concern. Morgan has been honored at various sporting events throughout the year and was even Homecoming Queen and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Girl of the Year. Her last date of treatment will be November 6, 2020.
Throughout her treatment in and out of the hospital, Morgan and her family felt so much love and support from The University of Iowa Dance Marathon. The volunteers, gift cards, and endless support from these students has made an everlasting impression on the LaBelle Family.
Morgan is currently a healthy sophomore at the University of Iowa studying psychology. She is a Lime Captain for Dance Marathon 27, and she is also a member of Alpha Chi Omega. She is so thankful for everyone who has been there for her these past few years, especially Dance Marathon.