I met the Gonnella-Erb family years ago when their Mother, Lauren, picked up Sensory Bins that I used to make for her daughters. Years went by and I connected with Lauren again when she began collecting some pottery from Indigo Road Studio. When I heard the news that her twin daughters were diagnosed with JMML, a rare form of Leukemia my heart sunk. I do not know them personally, but it hit home because our children are the same age and I can't imagine how my world would have been shifted by this, let alone during a global pandemic! It may not make a huge impact but I'm sharing this story to help spread the word and educate others. Please check out this book below that was written by Lauren, illustrated by her Art loving daughters and created as a form of therapy and a way to help others.
A message from Lauren:
“Dear Brave One” was originally written and illustrated as a way to help my children, Addison and Jacqueline, work through some of their feelings about the last year. Both were diagnosed with an extremely rare form of leukemia, JMML, in which the only treatment was a bone marrow transplant. A bone marrow transplant requires chemotherapy to wipe out all of your bone marrow, also known as your entire immune system. Every last cell needs to be destroyed and then donor cells need to be transplanted, take hold, replicate to be able to create new healthy red blood cells, platelets and slowly rebuild white blood cells and the immune system. I was their donor, out of 30 million people registered to be a life saving donor - I was the only viable option.
Amazingly, CHOP has this new experimental process that takes away most of my white blood cells, that would have otherwise made a lot of trouble inside their bodies, while leaving specific white blood cells that seek and destroy any leftover cancer cells. This experimental process made it safer to use my cells as their donor even though I was not a perfect match and decreased the likelihood of relapse. To my knowledge, only two places have this experimental technology and we are so very thankful to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and their amazing oncology teams for continuing to push for advancements in treatments of pediatric cancers. A portion of the proceeds from this book will go directly to CHOP’s oncology department so they can continue their work and give hope to families like mine. We hope that our book gives you a window into real life pediatric cancer, raising awareness and much needed funds for pediatric cancer research.
Link to purchase their book: Dear Brave One
Here’s a link to The Team Jackie and Addison Facebook Page-
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