Today is a big day for eight-year-old Camdyn Dunn; a fundraiser to support her in a battle against stage four anaplastic large cell lymphoma will take place as well as potentially her last treatment of chemotherapy.
This morning from Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, Rachel Dunn, mom of Camdyn, shared that her tiny fighter was finally taking a nap after having been up all night– something she has grown accustomed to since her chemo treatments began in mid December. Tomorrow could be the last dose of chemo Camdyn takes since the process began (in total, she has gone through six rounds of chemo).
A weary but supportive mom, Rachel commented that she was very grateful for the upcoming fundraiser– a basket sale– and the several pervious fundraisers that have helped her to make ends meets since caring for Camdyn became her fulltime job. As a single parent, Rachel had to quit her job, leaving her financial situation shaky. A to support Camdyn was a great success back in February and last week, proceeds from purchased at went to support Camdyn.
This time, the fundraising was part creative and part competitive, shares organizer Christine Baughman who has two daughters at school who are friends with Camdyn.
For the past three weeks, every grade at Sliney has been preparing themed baskets to raffle off at the elementary school talent show tomorrow night held at . There are 22 baskets filled to the brim waiting for good homes and more than 1,200, $1 tickets sold to hopeful winners. You can purchase raffle tickets for a basket at Sliney in the morning or at the talent show at WIS from 6 to 7 p.m. (the raffle will be pulled at intermission, 8 p.m.).
Baughman shared that the two male second grade teachers, Peter Frye and Eric Jacobson competed to make the best sports themed baskets. Other baskskets feature a coffee theme, a pizza theme and one is even stuffed with a Kindle. Baughman said she had hoped that each grade would work together with teachers and room mothers organizing the creation of one basket per grade; now, just days before the raffle, there are one to two baskets per classroom.
Baughman who is a nurse by day and a PTA mom by choice, said of her idea to have the kids participate, “I think it’s really important to get the kids involved because they don’t understand what’s going on. The kids feel like they are helping her and making a difference.”
What Baughman may not know is just how much the students are helping Camdyn. Whispering this morning as to not wake Camdyn, Rachel said apart from her daughter struggling through chemo, spinal taps, blood and platelet transfusions and painful neupogen injections (that stimulates bone marrow to regenerate), Camdyn desperately misses her friends.
Rachael said Camdyn’s weakened immune system keeps her from visiting with friends and family and the separation has gotten so hard that Camdyn finds it hard to even talk to people on the phone because she cries. When a rare chance makes itself available– if there is no fear of someone bringing something as simple as a common cold to Camdyn– she does get to see her friends and is elated. “How does she find the strength to have those moments of happiness?” Rachel contemplated. “She absolutely amazes me.”
Camdyn’s levels will continue to be tested after the last chemo treatment is administered today. If she can go home, Camdyn will still have to be kept isolated from large groups of people so she doesn’t fall victim to a bug or virus. Rachel said a month down the road, after multiple echocardiograms are done to monitor her heart, Camdyn will then undergo a PET scan to show if there is any cancer left in her body. Rachel said, if all goes well and the PET scan is clean, it will be the first time she will exhale in about six months.
If Camdyn’s blood counts return to normal, with no transfusions or injections, she can begin to live life again as a “normal” child. Two years from now, if she continues to progress, Camdyn will be in remission. Fighting one day at a time, Rachel said, “I won’t get excited until I get that final test in my hand.”
Meanwhile, back at Sliney, several of Camdyn’s friends showed off their favorite baskets and posed for photos yesterday morning. When told that Camdyn will get to see the photos, several pairs of thumbs went up into the air and seven little smiles lit up the whole school.