Four days after the Dec. 13 diagnosis, the 12-year-old girl underwent a 23-hour surgery to remove the tumor at an Oakland, Calif. children’s hospital. In January, she began radiation and chemotherapy to ensure the tumor would not grow back, leaving her with occasional double vision and lack of energy.
“She used to love to read all the time,” Melissa said. “Now it depends how she feels.”
Now that Kourtney has finished her radiation therapy, Melissa is faced with the task of paying for the expense of continued chemotherapy and hospital bills without being employed. Melissa, a former technician at Western Pathology Consultants, has found the aid of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and Northern Nevada Firefighter’s Random Acts of Kindness (NNRAK) organization.
Local firefighters gladly shaved their heads inside the Sparks Fire Department on Saturday in support of Kourtney and Northern Nevada Children’s Cancer Foundation. The firefighters have been collaborating with St. Baldrick’s to raise money for cancer research by asking friends and families to send donations via the St. Baldrick’s Foundation website.
“The kids need to know that people care,” Sparks firefighter and president of NNRAK Jarrod Stewart said. “It’s a big deal to these families who need help paying their (hospital) bills.”
Stewart said he and other firefighters see families in need and strive to continue to “keep things local” in terms of charities and funding research in the future. The organization has accumulated about $3,000 thus far with one week remaining for the fundraiser.
Sparks Fire Department Capt. Eric Millette was one of several firefighters who received a haircut, saying it was a “phenomenal opportunity” for his crew.
“As public safety personnel, it’s important for us to give back,” Millette said. “It’s such a minimal cost for us and such a huge cost for (Kourtney).” Millette couldn’t recall how many times he has had his head shaved for this event during his career, but said that cancer research is something he, and the men in the fire house, are passionate about.
Kourtney resumes chemotherapy on April 2 and will continue through the end of 2012. When asked about Kourtney’s optimism, Melissa replied, “She’s a strong girl. She’s making it through this really well for a young girl.”