Community rallies to help 3-year-old Midvale girl fight cancer
Jul 25, 2019 11:18AM
By Sarah Morton Taggart
Khaleesi Rogers was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and will soon start chemotherapy. A neighbor has set up a fundraiser to help the family pay for the medical bills. (Photo courtesy Flavia Souza)
By Sarah Morton Taggart | [email protected]
When Khaleesi Rogers was 3 months old her mother noticed a small bump on the back of her leg. Francesca Maxi, who is a certified nursing assistant and going to school to become a registered nurse, took her daughter to the emergency room but was told the bump was just a cyst.
For the next three years, Khaleesi continued to see doctors, but every time they said it was nothing to worry about.
Until this past winter, when the bump started to grow faster. When it got to the point where Khaleesi had to hold her leg up in order to sit down, the doctor removed part of the growth and determined that it was a rare form of cancer called Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP).
The odds of developing DFSP are one in a million, and for 95% of those cases the tumor grows too slowly to be considered malignant. But in Khaleesi’s case, the cancer went undiagnosed for so long that extensive treatment has been required.
Cancer was found in both legs, and surgery was performed on each to remove as much of the growth as possible. So much deep tissue was removed that Khaleesi will need to have a skin graft and may lose a leg.
“It’s frustrating because the cancer has been there for so long,” Maxi said. “They’ve taken so much out of her leg that they’re at the limit and can’t take any more out. So they want to talk about doing chemo[therapy] to shrink [the tumors] down.”
While her legs heal, Khaleesi is confined to bed most of the day with her feet propped up. Her favorite movie is “Moana” and her brothers help keep her company.
“My 6-year-old is always asking if she’ll be okay and if she’ll walk again,” Maxi said.
Maxi’s training as a nurse comes in handy with bathing her daughter and treating her bed sores, but Maxi is unable to work with Khaleesi needing so much care and has had to put her education on hold.
Flavia Souza lives in the same Midvale apartment building and is director of the daycare that Khaleesi and her brothers go to. When Khaleesi had her first surgery, Souza set up a GoFundMe page with the goal to raise $5,000 to help the family pay for mounting medical bills.
Within two weeks, 33 people had given $1,125.
This is Souza’s first GoFundMe campaign. GoFundMe is a website that lets anyone raise money for a cause by sharing the story through social media and email.
“We just really wanted to help the family. Francesca is my hero,” Souza said. “She has been through so much [even before Khaleesi’s illness] and she is never grumpy, so hard working.”
Khaleesi is also known for her sunny disposition, but also has a mischievous streak. “Always hitting… but for a good reason according to her!” Souza said. “And I remember not long ago, she cut one of the teachers’ hair when they were doing an art project.”
Khaleesi also loves to dance. “The doctors are trying everything to save her leg,” Souza said. “Otherwise they will have to remove it and that breaks my heart.”
“Khaleesi’s mom is the strongest person I have ever met,” Souza said. “She raises her three kids by herself, works as a CNA and goes to school to be a registered nurse. We ask that you please help in any way you can since the mom has been missing a lot of work and bills are piling up. God bless and thank you!”