Kelsey Can! Join us in her fight to conquer AML - Leukemia

For: Chris & Lisa Berger
Wappingers Falls, NY
Organizer: Aunts & Uncles
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The Story

Please help support 5-year-old Kelsey Berger who was diagnosed with AML, an aggressive form of childhood leukemia, on Feb 2, 2017. Kelsey is currently undergoing 9 long months of inpatient chemotherapy at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y. All donations will go directly to the Berger family to assist with uninsured medical expenses, daily travel expenses, childcare for Kelsey’s younger brother, and to allow the Berger family to focus all their energy on Kelsey’s immediate care.

Kelsey’s Story

Kelsey Berger is a spirited 5-year-old with a contagious smile and vivid imagination. She loves anything Disney and Trolls, and also has a longing to learn. Kelsey has the ability to leave a lasting impression on anyone that she meets.

Kelsey’s parents noticed a rash on her chest and back and brought her to the doctor. After tests came back negative for strep throat and mono, Kelsey was told she has a virus. Over the next 10 days, the rash didn’t go away and her concerned parents made another 3 visits to different pediatricians. All resulted in the same outcome; a virus. Without any other symptoms, the doctors recommended against blood work or a trip to the ER, but Kelsey’s parents knew something wasn’t right.

She attended Kindergarten the next morning, but not for long, as the nurse called Kelsey’s mother suggesting she had Scarlet Fever. Although Kelsey did not have strep throat or a fever, her mother picked her up and took it upon herself to bring her to the ER for additional blood work. When the results returned, it was clear that something was seriously wrong. Kelsey was immediately transferred by ambulance to the nearest children’s hospital where she was admitted. It was here that she and her family found that their lives were forever changed, as Kelsey was diagnosed with cancer.

On February 2, 2017, Kelsey was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). AML is a rare type of Leukemia affecting about 500 children each year. It is an ugly disease with an uncertain outcome. This diagnosis has shattered Kelsey’s family and has devastated them to the point of disbelief. Because this type of cancer is aggressive, so too is her treatment. Kelsey is just beginning a long, nine-month journey at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y. where she has already begun receiving intense chemotherapy treatments around the clock. Her tiny body has endured surgeries and blood transfusions, in addition to battling fever, nausea, pain and fatigue in a constant fight for her life. She will soon lose her hair, eyebrows and lashes, which is difficult for her to understand. She must wear a mask any time she leaves her hospital room as the very medicine fighting her cancer, is also depleting her ever-weakening immune system. She faces years of intensive and invasive treatment, and essentially a lifetime risk of relapse. Kelsey also has a two-year-old brother who misses his “sissy” and has to adjust to a life of not being with her every day. Her childhood has been stolen from her and her future is now filled with unimaginable uncertainty. She has a challenging road ahead of her but she is not scared of the path. She has taken all of our hands, and we will all walk alongside her until she reaches her very own fairy tale ending.

Please help Kelsey and her family battle this ruthless disease together and ease the burden of everyday expenses. All donations will go directly to the Berger family to assist with uninsured medical expenses, family and household expenses, and travel needs. Thank you all for helping heal the hearts of our family and for showing our little princess that in the end; kindness, love, and family always prevail.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on March 14, 2017

Posted on March 14, 2017

Today is Kelsey’s 42nd day in the hospital. We try to take things one day at a time, but it’s difficult when we know how much longer she will be here.

We received part of Kelsey’s bone marrow testing results. The testing indicated that Kelsey still has 0.8% of cancerous cells in her bone marrow. While this is down from 43-90% (depending on the lab used), she needs to be at 0% to be considered in remission and eligible for her bone marrow transplant.

Because of Kelsey’s AML diagnosis and her complex karyotype mutations, the doctors are recommending a second round of chemotherapy that will be much stronger than the first, with the hope that it will wipe out the remaining cancerous cells and mutations. Kelsey will be starting two new chemotherapy treatments, which come with a new set of long-term risks that include heart and lung failure and secondary malignant cancers. To reduce these risks, she will be given steroids and additional medications. In approximately 28-35 days, Kelsey will have more bone marrow testing done to determine her cancer and mutation levels. We’re praying she will be in remission at that time, so she can prepare to have her needed transplant.

We also found out that Kelsey’s brother is not a strong enough match for Kelsey’s bone marrow transplant. Fortunately, the hospital has many cord blood donors that are top matches for Kelsey.

Many people have asked about how they can become bone marrow donors. While you cannot become a donor for a specific person, the links below provide information on how you can be added to the bone marrow registry. This is something we will be pursuing once Kelsey is better!

As difficult as it is to watch our little angel go through this terrible ordeal, we continue to have HOPE because of her strength. Thank you again for the love and support you have shown Kelsey and our family. Please continue to pray for Kelsey so she can beat this horrible disease and come home.

With unconditional love,
The Berger Family

Posted on March 3, 2017

Posted on March 3, 2017

It’s day 28 and we’re happy to report that Kelsey has been in very good spirits the past 6 days or so. She has been smiling, laughing and playing. Her recent blood cultures and CT scans have come back negative for infections, her rash is almost gone and she hasn’t had a fever, which reduces the amount of daily medications she’s on. We’ll definitely ride out these good days, because we know she has a long, tough road ahead of her.

We recently received some difficult news. The doctors were very optimistic when Kelsey's flt3 genetic test came back negative. They thought based on percentages, Kelsey would be placed in a “low risk” subgroup for relapse and that we would be able to continue with her current treatment course. Unfortunately, the rest of Kelsey's genetic testing results indicated that she has a large number of complex karyotype mutations, which essentially means she will not respond to typical chemotherapy treatments and will need a new course of action. She would have a very high chance of a relapse (70-80%) if she were to continue on her current treatment course. Complex karyotype mutations typically occur in about 10% of AML patients and almost never in pediatric patients. Luck has not been on our side.

Before we can move forward with a new treatment plan, Kelsey will need to be in remission. This is determined by the amount of cancerous cells and mutations in her bone marrow. Her bone marrow test is scheduled for next Wednesday, March 8th. If she does not go into remission, she will need a more intensive 28-35 day cycle of introductory chemotherapy.

Once Kelsey is in remission, she will need a stem cell transplant, specifically a bone marrow transplant. This starts with an even more intense round of chemo, wiping her bone marrow clean. The transplant comes with many risks and she will need to rebuild her entire immune system. Because of this, she will be put into isolation for 6-8 weeks after the bone marrow transplant and will not be able to leave her hospital room during that time. The expected recovery time from the transplant is one year, with some of that time being spent as outpatient.

It was not easy to hear this news seeing how her overall treatment plan could be extended by about 6 months and it could possibly involve her 2 year old brother if he is a donor match, but she has excellent doctors and we only want to go through this process once. We’ll do whatever it takes to get her cured for good and never look back on this bad dream.

We again want to thank everyone for the incredible amount of love and support that has been shown to Kelsey and our family. A special thanks to the Monroe-Woodbury and Wappingers communities, Lisa’s employer, and the many friends who have arranged events in Kelsey’s name. We have been absolutely blown away by your thoughtfulness and compassion. Please continue to keep Kelsey in your prayers.

With love,
Chris, Lisa & family

#kelseycan #kelseyskrusaders

Posted on February 19, 2017

Posted on February 19, 2017

We continue to be taken aback by the love and support that has been shown to Kelsey and our family. It is truly appreciated!

Today is day 17 since Kelsey first started chemotherapy. She continues to have good days and bad. She consistently has a high fever, which results in the hospital conducting blood cultures every day to confirm that the fever is not a result of an infection. She has had numerous blood and platelet transfusions and because her immune system is completely depleted, she doesn't have the energy to be out of bed for long periods of time. In recent days, Kelsey has developed a new rash that covers her entire body and she has started to lose her hair.

Kelsey’s brother continues to greatly miss his sissy, but thanks to Facetime, they are able to “play” each day. A recent trip to the hospital from her brother certainly lifted both their spirits!

We’ve started to have some difficult conversations with Kelsey, but she has handled everything in stride. Despite the myriad of medications she’s on and her weakened body, she has for the most part, maintained a positive attitude and still flashes her beautiful smile.

We truly cannot thank you enough for your generosity and thoughtfulness. Please keep Kelsey in your prayers to give her the strength she needs and hopefully one day we can pay it forward.

With love,
Chris, Lisa, and family

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