A community has come together to support a B.C. family whose four-week-old baby is facing months of cancer treatment after being diagnosed with a rare form of infant leukemia.
What started off as a trip to the ER for a fever, has turned out to be the worst news a parent could receive.
On December 23rd, Rebekah Campbell returned home from shopping to find that her 4-week-old daughter was running a high fever. Thinking she may have the flu, she rushed her to the ER at her local hospital.
After many tests and hours of waiting Rebekah and husband Dave received the devastating diagnosis that their daughter had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a cancer of the white blood cells.
Immediately, she was airlifted from Victoria to BC Children’s Hospital, where doctors began work on her; testing her bone marrow and spinal fluid to find out more about the type of leukemia that was growing.
They also started her on steroids. This is the first stage of ‘a long and painful chemotherapy regime designed to try to eradicate the leukemia that has filled Molly’s body.’
Molly was one of the youngest leukemia patients they had ever seen at the hospital. Cure rates for leukemia have made huge advances in the past 20 years. However, Molly’s leukemia has the genetic markers of a much more difficult leukemia to treat.
Dr. Kirk Schultz, a pediatric oncologist at BC Children’s Hospital, said this form of infant leukemia is diagnosed only two or three times a year in Canada and her size further complicates the situation.
“It’s quite unusual for the little babies, and it seems to be quite a different type of leukemia and it’s very difficult to treat,” he said.
“When they’re that small, we always worry a lot about the side-effects of the therapy,” he said. “In particular, little babies are very susceptible to infections.”
Initially Molly’s doctors told her parents that she would only need to stay at B.C. Children’s hospital for six months, but now they expect a year. David or Rebekah must be in the room with Molly around the clock to help care for her.
Since she has four siblings under the age of seven, the couple has been told their family size will make it difficult for them to stay at the Ronald McDonald House or other family support facilities in the area.
A friend of the family has set up a websiteto help raise money and offer emotional support. In the past week, more than $10,000 has been raised to help the family.
“The response has been really amazing, people are really coming out from the community, from Victoria, from British Columbia, and frankly from all over the world,” said Paul Pearson, a friend of the family.
“People, I think, really understand that this is such a tragedy,” Pearson said.
David, said the website has also been a source of emotional support for the family.
“It helps so much, even just to see the website. Last night we stayed up until two in the morning just reading people’s little messages of hope.”
Supporters in the community are also planning a bottle drive and a charity hockey event to raise funds to help the family through the long treatment.
“I told my wife this morning that Molly’s going to be the biggest advocate for cancer research that anyone’s ever seen,” Campbell said.
As we celebrate what the new year will bring, I hope that everyone will keep this family in their hearts and prayers. We hope that 2011 brings an amazing recovery for this tiny baby, who has her whole life ahead of her.
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