A Disney princess once said, “Sometimes our strengths lie beneath the surface … Far beneath, in some cases.”
Natalie Dawn Willard, a 5-year-old Kingmanite, has strength beneath her, and every day she uses that power to fight for her life.
Natalie was diagnosed with stage four high risk neuroblastoma at age 2. In June 2018, she relapsed and is currently going through treatment. Since her diagnosis, she has been traveling to New York and Michigan to see her doctors.
“For a year, we were going to New York to prevent a relapse, but she relapsed in June,” said Natalie’s mom, Amber Willard.
According to the American Cancer Society, neuroblastoma occurs when cells in the body begin to grow uncontrollably and crowd out normal cells.
Willard said it’s a rare pediatric cancer.
When Natalie was little there weren’t any health issues that made her mom think otherwise.
“She was staying with my sister for a few nights and started getting belly pain and vomiting,” Willard said.
The doctors thought it was nothing big, but that didn’t stop Willard’s mother’s intuition.
She is a pediatric nurse and demanded the doctors to do something. Natalie had an ultrasound and that’s when her tumor was discovered.
“It’s been long and rough,” Willard said.
After relapsing again, Natalie has been going through treatment, but it’s different from the first time she fought the disease.
“The treatment is a lot harder on her, and she is not as responsive as the initial time,” Willard said.
The journey has been difficult but support hasn’t left the family’s side.
“We’re super thankful for everyone,” Willard said. “Without the support we would be struggling.”
Natalie’s parents make sure to let their daughter know what she has without scaring her.
To make her feel like the superhero she is, Candlelighters NYC has provided Natalie with business cards that say who she is, where she is from, and that God made her special and brave.
To help the family with expenses during Natalie’s journey, Frozen Yogurt Island is hosting a fundraiser for Natalie and her family from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 at 3880 Stockton Hill Road, according to the store’s Facebook page. The shop is also having a raffle for the family and will be selling tickets for $1 or six tickets for $5.
All monies from the raffle will go to the family and a portion of the sales of yogurt will also be given to Natalie and her family to help her in her fight.