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Local non-profit helps toddler with cancer

A Benton Harbor 5-year-old girl is in remission from brain cancer and a local non-profit is working to make her life a little bit easier.

Chatavea Little is a vibrant girl who has a special bond with her oncology nurse Connie Demler.

Little said, “I love your hair I like to braid it!”

Chatavea's mom said she hasn't always been filled with this much joy.

Danielle Allison said, “A brain tumor called Astrocytoma. She had two. One when she was 8-months-old and one when she was about 3-years-old. She did a year and a half of chemo.”

Allison said having a baby with cancer was hard on her entire family.

Allison said, “I had to actually live in the hospital for three months. It financially took a toll on me.”

Allison quit her job to take care of her daughter full time.

Allison said, “She's a survivor. She's very strong. They told us she would be delayed, but she's very smart!”

Now that Chatavea is in remission, Allison is working to provide for her family again. When the Berrien County Cancer Service heard about the family, they stepped in to help and provide free healthcare.

The Executive Director of the service said everything for the patient is free.

Nancy Church said, “Throughout the year there's around 200 different patients that we take care of. We service last year 529 and that includes our loan closet.”

The non-profit has a closet full of medical equipment and prostheses that they loan to families in need. They are funded by community donations, grants, and the United Way.

The community liaison said this is the only program like it in the country.

Reneè Reid-Smith said, “There are no agencies, we've looked and googled nationally. To provide skilled nursing services in the home at no cost to the patient is truly a gift.”

Reid-Smith said through June 15th they are raising money through a 'Pennies for Patients' drive.

If you would like to learn more or donate to the Berrien County Cancer Service you can visit http://www.bccancerservice.org/donate/ or call 269-465-5257.
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