By Ashley Peterson-DeLuca
Aubrey Greiner of Glenwood, Iowa, is 8 and passionate about sports. She started soccer at just 3, moving onto volleyball and basketball as her passion deepened in elementary school. She attended her first Creighton University Women’s Volleyball game this fall, loving every second of the action. But at the end of 2023, she’s going to score her biggest victory yet: her last chemo treatment.
Since being diagnosed with b-cell lymphoma, a cancer that affects the antibodies and the proteins in the immune system, two years ago, Greiner and her family together went toe-to-toe against the disease. On her team is her younger sister Emma Greiner, older brother Logan Greiner and her parents – with her mom Amber Greiner taking on the role of her biggest advocate. Through it all, Amber Greiner just wants her daughter to feel as normal as possible.
“She’s a sweet kid who loves to do all the normal kid things,” says Amber Greiner. “There so much to her. Cancer is just a chapter of her life.”
Cancer took a toll on Aubrey Greiner physically. She had a surgery to remove the affected lymph node, multiple lumbar punctures, four inpatient stays for chemo, a port placement, a port removal and five blood transfusions plus one platelet transfusion. On bad days, Amber Greiner watched her normally active daughter experience extreme fatigue.
“She would just sit in her chair, take endless naps and go to bed at 5 p.m.,” says Amber Greiner.
When her energy dropped extremely low, Amber Greiner learned it meant Aubrey had low hemoglobin levels and needed a blood transfusion.
“One day in November 2022, it came out of nowhere. Her numbers kept dropping. It was so scary. She needed two blood transfusions and platelets in a matter of days,” says Amber Greiner. “I’m so thankful the blood products were so accessible. She got them within a few hours.”
Once Aubrey Greiner received the transfusion, her mom said it was like an “instant recharge.” Amber Greiner recognizes the importance of blood donors in saving lives.
“Seeing Aubrey’s cancer journey has prompted friends and family to donate in her honor,” she says. “There are so many people who need blood transfusions to save their lives.”
For Aubrey Greiner and her family, the hardest moments are in the past. They are counting down the days until December 27, 2023, when she will receive her last cancer treatment. After endless doctor appointments, needle sticks and medications, Aubrey can go back to being a just a kid.
“She’s already feeling more normal. Her hair has grown back, she’s able to attend school and her energy levels are so much higher,” says Amber Greiner. “She’s now able to run up and down the basketball court again.”
To celebrate, the Greiner family is planning to visit the Great Wolfe Lodge in Kansas City at the end of the year — a trip they’ve had to put off for years — and then a beach vacation in Mexico in February.
Amber Greiner adds: “Aubrey doesn’t like the attention. But I tell her ‘You deserve the attention. I’m going to celebrate you whether you like it or not!’”
The kindness and support of health care workers who helped Aubrey Greiner through her cancer journey left a mark on her. This past Halloween she dressed up as a nurse. She says she wants to be a nurse who helps oncology kids when she grows up.
You can help patients like Aubrey by giving blood this holiday season. The need for blood is constant, and maintaining a healthy blood supply is necessary to ensure patients receive the care they need. Visit
redcrossblood.org to schedule your appointment.