Mesa Orth was an ordinary girl who enjoyed art. She was a big part of the art program at Combs High School. She led a fairly normal childhood until her life would change forever on Dec. 12, 2018.
She was diagnosed with leukemia, and her world was flipped upside down.
Being hospitalized for treatment was extremely difficult for Orth, but she had one thing to help get her through it. Her passion.
“When I was in the hospital I did a lot of art and that would help kind of get over the fact that I was in the hospital it was something to do that made me feel better,” Orth said.
She finished chemotherapy recently and is on the road to recovery after a lot of hardship that she and her family had to endure.
“You don’t realize what other people are going through until you go through it yourself and then it really puts things into perspective,” Mesa’s father Kenny Orth said.
Mesa’s diagnosis caught her family by surprise after an initial health screening was inconclusive.
“She had been having some health issues and I had taken her to the e.r. on Ironwood and they didn’t find anything so then they referred us to a gastroenterologist,” Mesa’s Mother Kelly Orth said. “They did some prelabs before we had any procedures done, and then they called me and said you need to take her to the emergency room right away they found abnormal cells. I worked In the medical field and I knew immediately that was probably leukemia.”
Mesa was in need of a stem cell transplant, one in which there were only three potential donors. Luckily, one of the donors responded and ended up being a nine out of 10 match, and she was able to receive the transplant.
“That day was scary because you had to worry about if my body would reject the cells,” Orth Said.
Because the post-treatment cells in Orth’s body are her donors and not her own, she received a cake and got a certificate that said “rebirth” on it.
“The cells in her body aren’t Mesa’s they are her donors, so she doesn’t have any of her cells and we don’t ever want her to have any of her cells because they could go bad again, so they have to monitor her to make sure she is keeping her donors cells,” Kelly said.
In addition to the stem cell treatment, Orth has undergone many chemotherapy sessions that caused complications with her liver which extended her time in the hospital by a month and a half.
That wasn’t the only complication though, Orth had a hard time eating and ended up losing around 60 pounds. At times she had to receive nutrients through a feeding tube and now working hard to regain and retain her weight.
Mesa hasn’t been to school for nearly a year-and-a-half but continues to work hard to make sure that she’s able to graduate with her classmates.
“She spends every day from like 7:30 or 8:00 to like 3:00 just doing homework so everyday seven days a week so she can get caught up. “ Kelly Orth said.
Orth’s family has had a lot of support from the community and charities, because of all the medical bills.
The support from the community and the charities have played an integral role in helping their family get through this emotional and financial trial.
They also hope that the “Miles for Mesa” 5K run/walk held at Combs High School will be a big success, and provide some additional relief.
“Without all the support from all of the charities and like the school doing stuff like this we probably would have lost our house and gone into bankruptcy,” Kelly Orth said.
Orth and her parents run an Etsy shop called COTAforMesa where people can buy shirts and other things to help support Mesa and her family.
“Any little bit people can contribute is helpful,” Kelly said. “Every time I take her to the oncologist it’s a specialist, even though I can’t take her to any other doctor it’s a one hundred dollar co-pay so it adds up fast we just appreciate all of the support from people and the community.”