Rob Lundy and Alecia Lancione knew something was wrong with their daughter, Michele, on Christmas Day 2011.
“On Christmas Eve, she was fine but tired. I thought she was coming down with a cold. On Christmas Day, she couldn’t care less about opening her presents,” Lancione said of Michele, a second grader at Blue Ridge Elementary School.
Her symptoms continued for the next few days. When she developed a fever of 103 degrees and a rash on her forearm, her parents took her to her pediatrician.
“They drew blood, and we got a call that night that her white blood count was low and her platelets were low,” Lancione said.
They received four calls from the doctor’s office that evening. On the final one, Lancione was asked to bring her husband with her when she brought her daughter back for the results the next morning. She knew the news wasn’t good.
Eight-year-old Michele was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia on Dec. 28, 2011. She recently was named Girl of the Year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Augusta Man and Woman of the Year campaign during an assembly at Blue Ridge Elementary.
Her prognosis today is much better than her parents thought when they first heard her diagnosis.
At first, they were numb at the news. “I didn’t really know what leukemia was,” Lundy said.
Because the doctors found the disease early, they began aggressive treatment. She will continue treatment through March 2014, but doctors have told the family there is no sign of the disease in her blood at this time.
The couple said the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has helped them during their family’s journey over the past 14 months. Michele has three sisters: Jenisis Seaman, 14; Shealynn Seaman, 12; and Averie Lundy, 7.
The family recently attended the weekend of Camp Care and Share, which is for parents and siblings.
Michele said she was happy to be named the Girl of the Year and happy at the way her class responded. Many children in her class wrote letters and drew pictures after learning about her honor at the assembly.
The Man and Woman of the Year is a 10-week fundraising campaign for the organization. This is the second year for the campaign, and the Augusta goal is to raise $135,000.
The Georgia chapter funds cancer research, but it also provides financial assistance to families affected by the disease.