Cancer doesn't dampen girl's spirit

By By ZACHARIAH BRYAN

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) — It's the type of thing that's never supposed to happen.

Isabella "Boo Boo" January, 6, was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on her right kidney on Dec. 9. Her parents said it came as a complete surprise.

Her parents, Skip and April, unsure of what the future would bring, sent out a call for help on social media. The community stepped up in a big way. Through a donation site (gofundme.com/JanuaryCancerFight) they have already raised over $13,000 of their $20,000 goal.

Still, as with any parent going through a tragic period in life, their optimism was measured.

"We're doing all right," Skip said. "It's quite a bit different because (Isabella) is going to have to be here for the next 26 to 28 weeks. I'm going to be traveling back and forth on weekends (from Bethel to Anchorage)."

Currently the family is taking everything one step at a time. Isabella had her right kidney removed and finished her radiation therapy, only having to do a few rounds. She was even given a "Grin and Bear It" award for getting through it without showing any signs of pain. (Her last round was the first time doctors said she expressed pain.)

In fact, if there were a way to look at the glass as half full, it's that Isabella has been resilient in the face of terrible medical news.

"She's pretty good. ... She was completely herself (before discovering she had cancer) and still is even after all this," Skip said.

However, he did say her hospitalization has taken its toll. Isabella is unable to take on all the extravagances of being a child: going out to the school's family nights, roller skating on Fridays, doing Awana at the Covenant Church, reading in the Battle of the Books, dancing, taking her dog Balto out mushing.

"She really misses being at school. She really misses her class, her teacher. She's a straight A student," Skip said.

While Skip sheepishly admitted to "Facebook spamming" the gofundme site, he said they have been greatly relieved by the support this community has offered.

"We'd like to thank everything for their current support and it's much appreciated," Skip said. "We're extremely thankful."

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