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Community rallies for 7-year-old cancer patient

 


Alice Campbell Havre Daily News [email protected]

Grace Gibson was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in January and has been receiving treatment in Seattle ever since. Her mother, Karen Gibson, took her to the doctor because she had been tired and running a low-grade fever on Jan. 19. The next morning they were on a Mercy flight out, Gibson said. They've been there since and returned to their home outside of Havre Friday. "It's been tough because we're split up as a family," Gibson said and added that without the support of family and friends it would have been hard to take care of Grace's two younger sisters. She and Grace stayed in the Ronald MacDonald House in Seattle while Grace underwent chemotherapy treatments. Now, back in Havre for the next eight weeks, "It's pretty cool to be together as a family," Gibson said. "When they told us she had leukemia, for a while we didn't even know if there was anything they could do for her," GibDoctors say "they've got a good chance to get her cured." Grace will travel every 10 days to Great Falls for chemotherapy treatments and then return to Seattle in August for roughly two months. The treatment to overcome the cancer takes 2 1/2 years on average to work properly, but because she has been able to study two hours a day, she should be able to return to her class at Cottonwood North in October as a second-grader, Gibson said. While she does get tired more easily and has shown signs of side effects, Grace hasn't faltered through the treatments and still has most of her hair, Gibson said. "She's just been so positive," she said. "The only time she got upset was when we had a week delay on being able to come home." Friends, family and the community have also been positive. And while the ordeal has not been fun, "It's also been our greatest lesson in humanity because people have been so good to us," Gibson said and added that people as far away as New Zealand have prayed for Grace. Saturday, those supportive people and more will gather at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church Parish Center at 440 7th Ave. For a benefit dinner and silent auction, beginning at 5:30 p.m. and running until 7:30 p.m. The support has been amazing, Mandy Hansen, one of the organizers, said. Colleagues at Gibson's work began the benefit and then others in the community joined. Now there are more than 100 items that have been donated for the silent auction including tools, oil changes, jewelry and home baked goods, Karla Fisher, one of the people helping with the event, said. Donations can be made up to the event itself. "It's pretty much a big variety of everything," she said. "Prayers for Grace" bracelets are also being sold, Kim Kaftan, another event helper, said. Two original drawings by Don Greytak are being raffled off. Tickets are on sale now through the fair and can be purchased at Norman's Ranch & Sportswear or by calling Hansen at 265- 3101, Fisher said. Spaghetti, salad, rolls and homemade cookies and bars constitute the free-will dinner that will be served, Kaftan said. During the event, Vicki Verploegen, Shelly Ohm and Stacey Waid will entertain with singing. "All my friends, they called and organized that, and it's just been so nice," Gibson said. The proceeds will benefit the Gibson family. Even though Grace has insurance, the travel costs are mounting and Gibson said she has been unable to work as a private speech therapist. If she doesn't work, she doesn't get paid, she said. "I don't know what we're in for, to tell you the truth," Gibson said. For more information, call Hansen at 265-3101. Donations can be made to the Grace Gibson Benefit Account, Wells Fargo Bank, P.O. Box 831, Havre, MT 59501. To check on how Grace is doing, visit www.caringbridge.org.son said and then added that Grace seems to be responding to the treatments favorably and that

 

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