CHAMPLAIN - In less than an hour, Laura Perras' life changed forever.
Last month the 23-year-old visited her doctor when she wasn't feeling well and ended up being treated for a sinus/middle ear infection. Within a week, she noticed a growing lump under her arm, which her doctor took to be an infected hair follicle.
On July 7, Laura's mother Wanda Perras noticed her daughter's coloring was getting worse and she seemed to have no energy. So she had her go back to the doctor.
"We got there at 4:30 p.m. and by 5:30 p.m. they were telling us it was leukemia," Wanda recalled.
Laura was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, which according to www.cancer.gov, is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
After being in the hospital for two days, Laura was transported to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt., where she has been since.
"Two weeks ago she was rushed into surgery and into ICU," said Wanda. "We almost lost her. It was a bacterial infection and to this day they don't know what type of bacteria it was. They just bombarded her with antibiotics."
Wanda explained due to Laura's low immune system from chemotherapy, her body was unable to fight the bacteria in her body, causing her kidneys to shut down and problems with her liver and gall bladder.
Despite being on kidney dialysis, Laura seems to be improving every day by taking "baby steps," according to Wanda, who added she is now out of the Intensive Care Unit.
Laura is also enrolled in a clinical study, as the type of leukemia she has is typically found in young children.
"You have a better chance of getting it as a child, and as you get older, it decreases," Wanda explained, adding for the next three years, Laura will partake in aggressive treatment that is typically done with children.
With the way things are going, Wanda said doctors are hopeful.
"They're saying that her markers, her genetic markers, are such that they're very hopeful for a full recovery," she explained.
However, with the trips Laura will have to take for chemotherapy, as well as the cost of prescriptions, her aunts Jennifer and Cindy Ackerman have been working to prepare a benefit to help raise money for her.
On Sunday, Aug. 22, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., there will be a fundraising benefit at the Champlain Veterans of Foreign War Post 1418. The day will include music by Zero Tolerance; emcee and disc jockey Chuck Deso, a volleyball tournament, horseshoe tournament, Chinese auction, barbecue picnic, face painting, dunking booth and other family-friendly events.
"What I have done is I opened up a bank account to put money in there to offset her financial burden for when she has to start traveling back and forth to chemo," explained Jennifer. "Prescriptions, stuff that she needs personally. As of right now ... it's hard to tell what she might need."
For more information about the benefit, contact Jennifer at 493-7487. Donations may be sent to Jennifer for Laura Perras' Benefit Fund, 25 Laforest Road, West Chazy, N.Y. 12992.