Hopewell Baptist Church near Holly Springs is having a community blood drive Jan. 13 to help Cailyn Grace Thompson, who was diagnosed in July at age 3 with Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The blood drive is 3 to 7 p.m. and is in the Family Life Center.
ALL is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow and one of the most common childhood cancers. Patients need frequent platelet transfusions during treatment.
“She has to have the blood to survive, and children like her would not survive without this type of support,” said her mother, Shelley Thompson of Woodstock. “I think it is a wonderful thing that they are holding this. We are just grateful they are doing this for her and the other children.”
Thompson, along with husband Adam and 6-year-old son Logan, have been by Cailyn’s side since her diagnosis July 24. She said her daughter is handling the treatments and constant visits to the hospital well.
“She is doing really well and has handled the chemo and all the treatments,” Shelley said.
Cailyn was unable to receive treatments during the holidays because her blood counts were too low and is now headed back to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite Hospital on Monday for further chemotherapy and evaluation.
Cailyn is expected to be in the hospital for about four days, her mom said, and will get medicine in a spinal tap during her stay.
“She has gotten used to it because every week she has to go in. She has adapted well. She is such a good girl — she doesn’t cry anymore,” Thompson said. “We are glad the hospital is so close. It is amazing how much these little guys can take.”
Thompson said when Cailyn was first diagnosed, the news was difficult.
“We were heartbroken and scared. We had noticed some bruises on her legs that were not going away and took her to the emergency room,” she said.
The family attends Hopewell Baptist and many in the church wanted to do something to help, said Hopewell Baptist Church event coordinator Christy Pope.
“Several of us have had cancer — I have, and our pastor has. When we heard about Cailyn, we were looking for some way to help the family, and this seemed like something we can do,” Pope said.
Pope said the church is praying for the little girl as well but wanted to do something tangible. Norman Hunt is church pastor.
“Of course we are praying for her. But this way we can put hands and feet to our prayers by doing the blood drive. Each unit we collect, she gets credit for it,” Pope said.
Pope said she drew inspiration from a photograph of a little girl who successfully battled ALL when she was waging her own war against cancer and that makes this seem all the more personal.
“I kept (the photo) on my desk,” Pope said. “I believe children are a gift from God and I believe if this little girl could do it, anyone could do it. Cailyn is just an inspiration to our entire congregation.”
Shelley Thompson said celebrating her daughter’s 4th birthday Dec. 28 was a special time for the family.
She said their son, Logan, has been a real trooper during his sister’s sickness. For many days when they were in the hospital in November, they could not see him because of the risk of flu infection during flu season.
Logan wants to be at his sister’s side as much as possible, she said.
“Logan — he is the best little brother. He prays for her before she goes into the hospital. He did not leave her side when she first went in the hospital,” Shelley Thompson said.
Cailyn’s mother said it is her faith in God that is seeing her through.
“We appreciate all prayers and support. We have faith that God will carry us through this difficult time, and we will continue to trust in him,” she said.
Pope urges the community to pray and to come out to the blood drive.
“Do it in honor of Cailyn or whoever they know who has cancer, because cancer touches a lot of families,” Pope said.
Hopewell Baptist Church is at 78 Ridge Road in Canton.
To schedule an appointment to donate, visit Redcrossblood.org and enter Sponsor code: Hopewell or contact Pope at firstname.lastname@example.org.