Updated: 06/22/2014 10:31 PM
Created: 06/22/2014 10:00 PM WDIO.com
Cancer is difficult for any family, but being the parent of a child with cancer comes with a different set of challenges. One Duluth family is fighting for their little girl Elizabeth.
Jennifer Luiten is very proud of her four-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Just ask he and she’ll tell you all about her infectious personality.
“She's very outgoing. She lights up a room,” Jennifer said. “There's a spark to her.”
Jennifer says everyone loves Elizabeth, but right now her little firecracker is fighting for her life. Elizabeth has cancer.
“As a mom watching that and as a dad watching that, it breaks our hearts, it really does,” Jennifer said.
When Elizabeth was just two-years-old she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Jennifer says she was shocked when she got the news.
After undergoing treatments Elizabeth went into remission in 2013, but in April 2014 the cancer came back. She has been in and out of the hospital ever since. She’s received numerous rounds of intense chemo, but the cancer just keeps getting worse, according to dad Kevin Yunk.
"She's fine one minute and the next minute she's sick and you have to run and get a bucket and she throws up,” Kevin said. “No little kid should have to go though what she's going through.”
Elizabeth is now in an induced coma in an effort to get her healthy again. "It's just basically so she can rest,” Kevin said. “She's up and at ‘em all the time. She wants to do everything.”
Elizabeth is never alone at the hospital. The couple takes turns staying with her, but with a baby at home Jennifer had to quit her job to be there for her family.
"I'm down at the hospital every day, all day if I can be,” Jennifer said.
The family is focused on getting little Elizabeth healthy enough for a bone marrow transplant later this summer. But for that she and mom will need to spend a lot of time at the Amplatz Children's Hospital in Minneapolis. That means this young family will be split up for more than 100 days.
“We try not to think about it, because if we think about it then we get sad,” Jennifer said. “We know our family is going to be split up for three to four months."
While they say it won't be easy being apart, they know it’s what they need to do to get their little girl healthy again.
With Jennifer away from work, medical bill and expected travel costs the family is looking to the community for help. Friends and family have organized a benefit for little Elizabeth.
Elizabeth's benefit is coming up Sunday, June 29 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Gopher Bar and Grill in Duluth. Enjoy a spaghetti dinner, live music and great silent auction prizes.
You can also make a donation at Pioneer National Bank (331 N Central Avenue, Duluth) under the Elizabeth Luiten-Hutchins benefit fund.
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