Nearly 5 years ago, Jake and Julie Novak’s lost their little boy the very day he was born. Doctors told Julie she wouldn’t be able to have children after that. Despite the odds, 13 months later, they were blessed with a beautiful daughter, Piper.
The Novak’s never imagined that two and a half years later, they’d be confronted with more devastating news. On June 2, 2010, doctors told them their little girl had leukemia.
“I never imagined that our son would die and that our daughter would be diagnosed with cancer,” said Julie fighting back tears. “We were in absolute disbelief.”
The Novak’s were ready to battle. They weren’t going to lose another child. For a year, they took Piper back and forth to the hospital for treatment. She underwent intense chemotherapy, 11 spinal taps, 3 surgeries and 7 blood transfusions. Piper still has a long road ahead, but today, she starts her last phase of treatment and doctors say they are confident she will be cured!
Over the last year, the Novak’s have been witness to the extreme generosity and support of their family, friends and even strangers.
|Piper and Dr. Jen Reichek|
The Novak’s also got big time support from Glenbard East High School, where Jake teaches. Teachers and students participated in a blood drive in honor of Piper. The school had its highest number of donors and Piper was of course the most popular girl at the school!
All the support is what has kept the Novak’s going during this difficult time. “Anytime somebody called us or just sends a card or makes a donation in her name, anything like that, it’s just the fact that we know people are thinking about us. People are amazing. Absolutely amazing,” said Julie.
After a year of hospital visits, Piper is ready to get back to being a social little girl. She’s already signed up for several summer classes including tap, ballet, soccer and taekwondo! If there’s one thing Julie hopes her daughter takes away from this experience, it’s compassion.
“That’s something we discovered was very important to us. Above all, this is going to teach her that. Because she’s going to look back and see how much love people have shown her and how much support they’ve given her.”
You can follow Piper’s journey on her Facebook page where her family posts updates!
***This post is part of a series to help spread awareness and raise funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I've been nominated as a candidate for "Woman of the Year" by the organization and have committed to raising money to help fund life saving blood cancer research and patient services. Over the last several weeks, I've met family members of those who have lost their battle with cancer; I've spoken with people who have been diagnosed and are still fighting; and I've interviewed survivors who have opened up their hearts to share their stories. Their stories will be posted here.
CLICK HERE to make a tax deductible contribution to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.