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At 5 years old, Vercelee is known for having high spirits and even higher energy. She loves to play, especially when it involves her twin Vivianna, older sister Graclin, or baby brother Roman. But recently, Vercelee’s journey through leukemia has taught her how to slow down.
Vercelee was 3 when her family rushed her to the emergency room after a week of experiencing high fevers that antibiotics couldn’t fix. They were shocked to discover that she was septic and needed a blood transfusion. From there, doctors noticed her blood counts were low and wanted to perform a bone marrow biopsy to investigate further. On September 21, 2019, Vercelee was diagnosed with leukemia and began treatment.
What started as a three-week stay in the hospital became the beginning of a long road through treatment. She travels between two hospitals to get the help she needs, but cancer has taken its toll. During intense chemotherapy, she lost all of her hair, as well as her ability to walk or use the toilet on her own. She also contracted meningitis as a side effect of treatment. As much as Vercelee loves running around and climbing with her siblings, now, she struggles to keep up with them and needs assistance from a walker or leg braces.
The pandemic has created new obstacles for their family, but Vercelee keeps fighting. Only one person can accompany her on treatment days, so they have to find someone to look after her siblings during their time apart. This can be a difficult task while trying to socially distance themselves from others. Each time they visit the hospital, regular COVID-19 testing is required, which can be uncomfortable for a young child. Plus, their appointment days are constantly switched around, making it difficult to plan for each trip.
Her family says that receiving aid from the Alex’s Lemonade Foundation (ALSF) COVID-19 Emergency Fund helped them stay afloat during one of the hardest times of Vercelee’s treatment. Her mom, Amber, was sent home from her job to begin quarantine earlier than the general public, which put a strain on their finances. ALSF was able to lift a little bit of that burden off their shoulders. “The help they sent got us through a rough patch,” says Amber. It is their hope that one day soon, Vercelee will be healthy enough to run and play like she used to.
Information provided by Amber, Vercelee's mom
Updated June 2021
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