Community members, friends and family are helping 6-month-old Neva Shepersky fight leukemia.
On Feb. 21, Jeremy and Carin, who live between Osage and Ponsford, received the devastating news that their baby girl was diagnosed with pre-B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital in Minneapolis.
"Our faith is very strong, and prayers are the number one thing we're looking for," Jeremy said. "Although we have asked for nothing but prayers for Neva and our family, friends and family members have taken it upon themselves to set up two GoFundMe pages and a benefit account at Citizens National bank for expenses. We are overwhelmed and appreciative with all the financial support, meals and other services the community has offered. We truly are blessed and overwhelmed with everything."
Neva's leukemia diagnosis came out of nowhere. Jeremy and Carin noticed Neva was a little fussy.
"For maybe five or six days she acted like she had a little bit of a bug maybe so we thought it was a cold," Jeremy said. "She had also been teething."
When Neva became pale and more lethargic, they took her to Park Rapids Essentia Health Clinic where blood tests led to a trip to the Masonic Children's Hospital at U of M for further testing and to begin the difficult road to recovery. She was later transferred from the intensive care unit to the cancer unit.
Jeremy and Carin have five other children at home and are committed to keeping their lives as normal as possible. Jeremy drastically cut back his work hours with Gemstone Masonry of Frazee, where he does concrete work, in order to take on the role as full-time dad. "Grandparents on both sides have been helping out quite a bit, too," he said.
Carin, who is a Registered Nurse at CHI St. Joseph's Health, took a leave from work so she can remain at the Minneapolis hospital with Neva.
The family belongs to Faithbridge Church in Park Rapids and their children attend Park Rapids School. Many messages of support from their church family have been posted on Facebook.
"The outpouring financially and everything else so far has been amazing and it's helped so much," Jeremy said. "They've set up a meal train account for us, which has meals for us through April. People go to mealtrain.com and sign up for a specific day and what they are going to bring. The meals are dropped off at the house so there has been zero cooking so far."
They were initially told Neva's estimated hospital stay would be four to six weeks, but now it has been extended to possibly seven to nine weeks.
"It's hard with all of us not being together," Jeremy said. "The whole family went down last week, and it was pretty hard leaving. We did get accepted into the Ronald McDonald House down there. That helps a ton."
So far, Neva's treatments are going well.
"She is doing as good as can be expected," Jeremy said. "She's had a week of treatment thus far that she handled very well, but sometime now she's starting a second phase of treatment that is more invasive, so we'll see how she responds to that. So far she is responding well to the second round also."
"They have not asked for this, but we know the extra financial support from friends and family will help defray medical expenses, travel expenses and lost income," friend Kali Mitness posted on Facebook.
GoFundMe pages feature updates every couple of days on how Neva is doing. The Facebook page ends with the a Bible verse that is a favorite of the family: "Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer" (Romans 12:12).