Sometimes communities come together in the face of a disaster like an earthquake or tornado. Livermore is showing its unity in the smiling face of a 2-year-old cutie pie struggling with brain cancer.
Delaney Newton, of Livermore, and parents Janice and Merlin received the devastating news last month that their little toddler had a brain tumor. It was almost a blessing that Delaney began to show symptoms in September, which caused the doctors to look for brain cancer. It turns out the tumor was causing her to throw up, but many times a brain tumor can grow without any warning signs until it is too late to treat. The tumor was removed Oct. 7, but the hardest part was still to come: chemotherapy.
The side-effects of chemotherapy oftentimes seem worse than the disease itself, but the hope that it can kill remaining cancer cells is well worth it. Doctors say Delaney will need several different chemotherapy treatments throughout the year. So far, doctors haven't seen signs that the cancer has spread beyond her brain.
Janice and Merlin have lived in Livermore their whole lives. Janice graduated from Livermore High the same year as me, and Merlin went to Granada High. Their hometown is rallying around them in a big way. Merlin's fellow firefighters at the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department have shaved their heads to show solidarity with Delaney, and many Livermore residents have bought Team Delaney shirts for $10, part of fundraising efforts of Merlin's brother, Travis. And the owners of Sauced in downtown Livermore are hosting another fundraiser.
"Janice and Merlin know the owners, and we go there for birthdays and other occasions," said Travis. "There will be a silent auction and a raffle, with donated prizes."
Barrett Gomes, co-owner of Sauced, is more than happy to help any way he can.
"That night, Nov. 13 is going to be all about Delaney, and I think the family will see how many people really care about what's going on in their lives," said Gomes.
The Livermore Police Department is also hosting a Crossfit Challenge fundraiser on Nov. 23, and Swirled and Tap 25 in downtown Livermore have also held fundraisers. The family has been touched by the support.
"It's not just the fundraisers, it's not the donations, it's that you've got a community behind you," said Merlin.
In the midst of all this, Merlin and Janice also must care for their 1-year-old son. Travis has taken time off work to help fundraise for his niece and involve the community through the Team Delaney Facebook page and a blog, http://delaneynewton.blogspot.com. There are already 4,000 likes on the Team Delaney Facebook page, and the list is growing fast. There is a link on the Facebook page for ordering Team Delaney shirts, and 700 have already been ordered.
"We don't make money on the shirts, they are mainly to spread awareness and show support for Delaney," said Travis.
On the page http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/team-delaney, $30,000 has been raised to help support Delaney and her parents. Janice has had to take a leave of absence from her work for at least one year to deal with everything. Janice and Merlin slept in a pullout hospital bed for the last month in order to be near Delaney. While Delaney is covered by medical insurance, there will be many expenses that are not covered, such as therapy and the loss of income from Janice leaving work.
"What's amazing is that Delaney is only 2 years old and has already participated in two Relays For Life," said Travis. "She has probably had the tumor since birth, and obviously we didn't know at the time that she had cancer. I get the chills thinking about her participating as a survivor some day."
Doctors are happy with Delaney's progress and have warned Janice and Merlin that the next year-and-a-half will likely be hell. Delaney not only has had to undergo surgery and chemotherapy but also the many procedures that come with those things: biopsies, scans, weeks in a hospital bed, IV placements, catheters and feeding tubes, just to name a few.
As a father of a 3-year-old girl, I can't fathom the pain that Merlin and Janice are going through as they see their daughter bravely fight through this disease. I ask my readers to show their support any way they can. I have always been proud of my hometown, especially when I see how so many Livermore residents care for others.
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.