SOLON– Almost two years old now, Nora’s world should revolve around potty-training, picking a bedtime story and being the center of attention for parents Ben and Michaela Sanderson of Ely.
These days, it is all that and more. Nora is fighting acute lymphoblastic pre-B cell leukemia. Intense chemotherapy will continue for at least two more years. That means normal toddler times take a back seat to bone marrow biopsies, leukemic cells, and making it to doctor appointments through sometimes icy, snowy conditions.
Nora doesn’t worry about the emotional and financial hardship. But family and friends do. Lots of family. Loads of friends, too.
On Saturday, March 2, at St. Mary Church Hall in Solon, old friends and new “UNIte” for Nora. (The theme stems from Ben and Michaela’s University of Northern Iowa roots.) Admission is $20 (under 18 years free). From 3 until 6 p.m. there will be live music, food, beverages, a photo booth and silent auction. At 6 p.m., the big prize will be awarded in a game of Heads or Tails. At 6:30 p.m., a live auction caps the fundraiser.
Money raised will help offset costs the family racks up, as they work through the diagnosis delivered this past fall. Treatment and medication costs are astronomical. The schedule is almost overwhelming. Michaela is on unpaid leave of absence from work; Ben works as much as he can; helping when available.
The March 2 event, with everyone coming together, lifts the Sandersons’ spirits a little. Thinking back to the November diagnosis, Michaela recalled “At first, doctors thought it was an ear infection. Antibiotics made her feel better.” However, Nora’s lack of energy, swollen lymph nodes and multiple blood tests indicated otherwise.
“We eventually got a call to come to University Hospitals to rule out the scarier stuff,” remembered Ben. “We are still unable to fully describe the terrible emotions of that day. It is a nightmare to say the least, but Nora is a fighter. She will see better days.”
Nora supporters can help online, too, at http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/UNIte-for-Nora/36381 . Help there gives her family more time to love, hold and care for her– with less financial stress and suffering. Donations (made out to Sanderson Benefit Fund) can also be made at any Hills Bank location.
The support and prayers are crucial, too. “With our strength and your help, we will win this battle and once again see Nora happy, energetic, fun loving– and silly,” vowed Michaela. “She is an inspiration of faith, courage and hope for all of us.”