Frances Griffin could not believe the news. Not again. In October of 2010, her 20 month-old great-granddaughter, Alexis West, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
What initially began as a fever that spiked frequently during several visits to doctors in different cities, resulted in an emergency ambulance ride to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.
It seemed like just yesterday that Alexis’ cousin, Christopher, had cancer. Christopher received his wish to go on a cruise to the Bahamas from Make-A-Wish® Eastern North Carolina in 1996. He passed away just a few weeks after returning from his trip at the age of 17.
Now the family would once again have to rally around one of their own – Alexis, too young to understand the gravity of the situation. For the next two years, Alexis underwent rigorous chemotherapy. The medicine prescribed affected her adversely, causing her skin to break out in blisters when exposed to direct sunlight. Yet another obstacle for a girl who loved to play outside.
During her treatment, Alexis and her family were referred to Make-A-Wish and worked with volunteers Valeria Barrow and Anne Willis. When asked what she would like to have for her wish, Alexis quickly selected a pink playhouse like the one she saw near her home in Trenton.
Balfour Beatty Construction, a long-time financial supporter of Make-A-Wish, helped make Alexis’ wish come true. A dedicated group of Raleigh-based employees built and donated the pink-painted playhouse that featured a porch, three windows, a 10-foot ceiling and writeable interior walls. The perfect wish for a girl who enjoyed drawing and coloring on the walls of her great-grandmother’s house!
“This wish meant a lot to our family,” said Frances. “It was something that Alexis truly wanted and gave her something to look forward to during her long and painful treatment.”
Along with the playhouse, Alexis received a kid-sized table and chairs, a welcome mat and color markers that will last her at least a year. Since delivery of the playhouse in November 2012, her “Papa” installed a toy stove that put the finishing touches for her tea parties with friends and family.
The best news came just a few months later on January 8, 2013 – Alexis’ 4th birthday. The medical team told Frances and her family that the “cancer cells were gone.” Happy Birthday Alexis!