A cancer treatment graduation with style

It’s always a special occasion in the Radiation Oncology Department at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital when patients “graduate” from treatments. They get a diploma, and a commemorative inspiration coin as a remembrance.

Ten-year-old Lakken of central Wisconsin, who recently finished her last of 30 tomotherapy treatments, also received both items. But her special day was a bit more over the top. She arrived for her last appointment in a pink stretch limo, and walked into the hospital on a pink carpet. She was joined by at least 10 of her family members, who treated her to a pizza party afterwards.

“It was Grandma’s idea to get the limo,” Lakken’s mom, Katie, said. “We didn’t tell her. It was a surprise. The limo came to her school to pick her up and we all rode to Marshfield together. She was pretty excited.”

When Becky Van Tassell, Radiation Therapist who worked closely with Lakken during her treatments, saw the whole clan in the waiting room, she was floored.

“I was thrilled that there were so many people there to support Lakken,” Becky said. “And then I found out about the pink limo ride. It was such a great way for her to leave in style. Pink and purple are her favorite colors.”

Lakken was diagnosed with brain cancer this past summer. After surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible, she started chemotherapy. Her radiation treatments began the first day of school.

“She takes most of this in stride,” Becky said. “She’s a very brave and determined little girl. She’s even been able to continue going to school. In fact, five of her school friends cut their hair off when they found that Lakken had to have her hair shaved off for surgery. She’s got a lot of support. If anyone can beat this, Lakken can.”

Her prognosis appears good, although she does need to continue a chemotherapy regimen until next September.

“Lakken knows what’s ahead for her, but she also knows what she needs to do to get better. She found a quote before her surgery that said ‘Never let anything dull your sparkle.’ That has been her motto through all of this,” said her mom. “She is always sparkly and happy. She rarely complains and always does what the doctors, nurses, and her dad and I ask of her. When she first asked how long she was going to be doing chemo I told her it would take about a year and her response was ‘that's not that bad.’ We are very proud of her.”

* Only the first names have been used to protect privacy.

(from left) Limo driver Jim, Sam, Taylor, Katie, Greg, Dorothy, Jan, Jane, Todd, Lakken and Breckin

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