Weronika Zeliszczak, a 7-year-old girl battling leukemia is the subject of a pair of Facebook campaigns her mother and teacher have launched to support her. One aims to send cards to the girl for completing chemotherapy, while the other encourages people to support her by "liking" her picture.
The Carpentersville girl was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia last April and has been undergoing intense chemotherapy treatments once a week to keep the cancer at bay. It's a cancer that attacks the blood and bone marrow.
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During treatment, Weronika had 29 blood transfusions and had to stay in the hospital 18 times, sometimes staying as long as two weeks, according to her mother, Katarzyna Zeliszczak.
Weronika finished those treatments last Thursday after nine months and will soon start a monthly round of chemotherapy, one that won't be as harsh on her body. The next segment is expected to last 20 months.
But in celebration of completing her toughest round of chemotherapy, Weronika's mother posted a photograph of her daughter on Facebook and asked friends to mail a card to Weronika that congratulates her for conquering this difficult stage in her life. She also asked them to "share" the information with their Facebook friends. As of Wednesday morning, 268 people had "shared" her mother's status.
"I am asking all the people with open hearts, those who care about her smile to send her a "congratulation" or "you are special" card for her beautiful and positive attitude during the treatment as well as being extra brave and patient," Katarzyna Zeliszczak wrote.
Cards mean the world to Weronika, a second-grader at Algonquin Lakes Elementary School. Weronika was diagnosed with cancer when she was in first grade, and her first-grade teacher, Christina Dahlberg, came to the hospital around Christmas with cards and presents from Weronika's classmates.
"She wasn't really interested in the presents, she wanted to open the cards," her mother explained. "It's so important to her, the support. The kids write such cute notes, like 'I love you,' 'I miss you,' 'You are a queen.'"
Tuesday, Weronika's family surprised her with the more than 200 cards people mailed to her.
The other Facebook campaign involves Megan Klotter, Weronika's second-grade teacher at Algonquin Lakes. Klotter posted a photograph of the girl on her own Facebook page, with the goal of getting 1 million people to "like" it.
"Her mom and I talked about how it would just be really special and really amazing for Weronika to see how many people are rooting for her and support her, so that's why we decided to do that," Klotter said.
Weronika, the daughter of immigrants from Poland, has been out of school due to her compromised immune system, but she's following along with lessons at home and is all caught up, Klotter said. Weronika is expected to return to school in March. Her hair will be growing back by then and she'll also be able to play outside with her friends, her mother said.
"She needs to have time to start her life again," her mother said. "I just don't want to risk anything."
You can send the cards out at any time because there isn't a deadline. The goal is that they become an endless stream of support.
If you would like to send a card to Weronika, please mail it to 1926 Cobblestone Drive, Carpentersville, IL 60110.
• Lenore T. Adkins covers Community Unit Community Unit District 300, Algonquin, Carpentersville, the Dundees, Hampshire, Sleepy Hollow and Grafton Township. To reach her, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (847) 608-2725.