Young Fishersville Girl Winning the Fight Against a Rare Form of Cancer
Jul 20, 2014 09:38 PM
A 2 1/2-year-old girl in Fishersville who was diagnosed with cancer just one year ago, is winning the fight and looking at a healthy future. Her family credits the community for stepping up and donating to her cause at their Ray of Sunshine Festival.
Raygan Batton was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer known as neuroblastoma in May of 2013. To help pay for her treatments, the family started the festival, inviting neighbors to help out. The result was around 3,000 people coming out to support this little girl.
Raygan Batton was only 21 months old when she was first diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Her grandmother Donna Abshire says the family was shocked. "I never heard of childhood cancer, I didn't even know kids got cancer until my own kid got cancer,” she said.
The procedures she needed were complicated and expensive.
Brian Belyea, an assistant pediatrics professor, said "The treatment for high-risk neuroblastoma is complex. It involves high-dose chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant, radiation, multiple surgeries, and then finally what she's doing now, immunotherapy."
So they turned to the community for help in the form of a festival, and the result was overwhelming.
"There are people here today that just came to meet Raygan especially... But these people, they spend their time, their hard-earned money, all the workers are donated, the bounce houses are donated,” said Abshire.
Sunday was the second Ray of Sunshine Festival. This year, Raygan's family is giving back to the program at University of Virginia Children's Hospital that saved her life.
Doctor Brian Belyea says the hospital is grateful for the support.
"Unfortunately, the funding that's available through the NIH has decreased over the years, so we're having to look for, many researchers are having to get money from other organizations, both foundations, but also local fundraisers like this,” said Belyea.
Abshire says she can't thank the community enough for making this all possible. "You know everybody's stepping up to make this what it is,” she said.
Raygan and Donna had to leave the festival early Sunday so they could get to another round of immunotherapy. They hope this will be one of the last times.
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