Reminder: Benefit Dance for Madeline Holmes planned for February 15

Reminder: Benefit Dance for Madeline Holmes planned for February 15Madeline Holmes (Maddie) is pictured at the University of North Carolina Hospital at Chapel Hill. Provided photo.

A “Benefit Dance” for Madeline Holmes – “Dance for Maddie” – will take place on Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Canton American Legion Post 303 from 1 to 5 p.m. There will be music, dancing, snacks, a raffle, Chinese auction, and of course lots of fun! Donations will be accepted at the door.

We printed the story about Maddie last week that talked about her her diagnosis with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

The December chill wasn’t just outside. It rushed through Anna Watkins’ body when she received the devastating news that her cousin’s granddaughter, Madeline, age 11, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Currently living in North Carolina with her mom, Brianne Holmes, and her brother, Logan, Madeline was hospitalized and facing immediate chemotherapy.

“I am a seven year cancer survivor,” said Anna. “I remember how I felt getting that diagnosis so I couldn’t imagine how overwhelming it was for Brianne and her child.”

More recently, Madeline started a regiment of needle pokes, blood transfusions, and surgery placing a port in her chest, a spinal tap for a lumbar spinal fluid sample, biopsies and finally chemo.

“She was under anesthesia for a lot of that, thank goodness,” said Brianne. “Her plan of care has been determined and the doctors explained that because she has Down’s Syndrome she is considered at higher risk for infection, and because she’s more than ten years old, she is considered higher risk in general, so we will unfortunately have to remain here at the hospital for probably a few months.”

Madeline’s immune system is just about zero, which means she cannot fight any virus or infection that she may come into contact with. She needs constant antibiotics pumped into her.

“Over the past few weeks Madeline has experienced complete loss of appetite, sudden drop in her salt levels, weakness in her hips and legs, crazy coagulation numbers, and came pretty close to some very scary liver numbers,” explained Brianne.

“I can tell Mad is trying to process all that is happening, but I believe she does not have the same fears or preconceived notions about cancer as the rest of us do,” continued Anna. “She is so good, so sweet, and if I could trade places with her I would – without hesitation.”

For Madeline the first 30 days was the “Induction” phase to bring the leukemia growth to a halt before moving into other types and forms of chemo. At that point they would know if her bones were going to start remaking the leukemia cells again. 

Unfortunately, unlike most children who have this form of leukemia, Madeline did not go into remission. Her chemo did not obliterate her cancer and there was still leukemia in her system. It’s called Minimal Residual Disease (MRD). 

As of Jan. 21 Madeline has entered the “Consolidation” phase, which lasts about 60 days. Brianne and her family are being optimistic and hoping for remission after this phase.

Reminder: Benefit Dance for Madeline Holmes planned for February 15

Brianne and Madeline have the wonderful support of doctors, social workers and an entire oncology team, along with family and friends. But it still takes a strong person to be the single mom that she is. The reality of her situation is compounded by having to understand all the cancer and care details alone, make all the decisions alone and sort out and take care of two children in two different locations – hospital and at home.

And at home in Canton, Pa., Anna knew she couldn’t travel to North Carolina and wondered what she could do to help.

After thinking and planning, Anna and family members are hosting a “Benefit Dance” for Madeline Holmes – “Dance for Maddie” – on Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Canton American Legion Post 303 from 1 to 5 p.m. There will be music, dancing, snacks, a raffle, Chinese auction, and of course lots of fun! Donations will be accepted at the door.

The Canton American Legion Post 303 has donated their social hall for this fundraiser. Logan Route, a local DJ and performer has donated his time and equipment. The Park Hotel in Canton has donated a gift certificate for a “Sweetheart Meal” which will be raffled off at the dance. Tickets will be sold for the Chinese auction items. There will be special cards available for those who wish to send encouraging words to Maddie, Logan, and Brianne.

Tracey Congdon Weldy, from “Kids Can’t Fight Cancer Alone,” has volunteered to help decorate the social hall for the dance.

For more information or to donate an item for the Chinese auction, email Anna at tlarry2012@gmail.com and please put “Maddie donation” in the subject line.

“Please join us in supporting Madeline through her battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia,” said Anna. “All proceeds will go to the Holmes family.”

“It’s very hard for me to ask for help. This is so new for me,” said Brianne. “But because it’s for my child I have to accept the help. I am still a single mom with another kid who is still at home, going to school, going to dances, smiling at girls, riding his bike all over the neighborhood and doing back flips off all available elevated surfaces.”

“We’re very far away in miles,” said Anna. “But they are so very close to our hearts.”

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