AROUND NJ

Community Comes Together to Support 5-Year-Old With Cancer

By Erin Pedrini
Web Production Assistant

Morgan Ackerman. Photo courtesy of Charlene Ackerman.

“Morgan was born three months early, a premie at one pound. She wasn’t supposed to survive but she did,” said Charlene Ackerman, mother of 5-year-old Morgan Ackerman. The Eastampton residents have upcoming fundraisers with proceeds going toward Morgan’s medical bills.

“Morgan is a very friendly, smart and affectionate little girl,” said Charlene.

Morgan has been fighting medical battles since she was born prematurely. When Morgan was born, Charlene had pulmonary embolisms that almost took her life and she was in the hospital for three months. Morgan had to stay in the hospital for a year. Charlene said that Morgan had to undergo heart surgery, a tube surgery to eat and ear tube surgery that year. Morgan was also born with down syndrome.

“We didn’t expect Morgan to get cancer but she got a fever in June [2014] and it wasn’t going away and they took blood and found Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. Morgan was in the hospital for three and a half months,” said Charlene. Morgan was just released from the hospital on Sept. 4.

“She has been through unbelievable stuff like chemotherapy and steroids that caused her to get diabetes. Her blood sugar levels were 500, and she needed insulin but she was bruising a lot. From the insulin she got a blood/yeast infection that put her in intensive care for four weeks. She was put on medication to get rid of the infection and gain white blood cells but the side effect of the medication is getting cancer back so it was either get cancer or kill her with an infection, so they had to give her the medication,” said Charlene. “She is doing out-patient chemotherapy for three years anyway so the cancer side effect would be worked on anyway. They got rid of the infection and then she got Mucositis, which are ulcers along the digestive track that burst into third degree burns. She was in a sedated coma to get her white blood cells back then.”

Charlene and Morgan Ackerman. Photo courtesy of Charlene Ackerman.

Now that Morgan is home, Charlene said that Morgan is tired a lot and has to have about 40 medications a day from 6 a.m. until midnight. Charlene said that her family does not qualify for Social Security or an in-home nurse.

Since the Ackerman family has so many medical expenses, many community members have started fundraising for them.

Charlene said that a little girl in the community asked for money for her birthday gifts and she knocked on Charlene’s door and gave her the $300 she received for her birthday to help Morgan. A landscaper from Charlene’s hometown of Madison Park auctioned off a chainsaw at his annual pig roast and raised $500 for Morgan.

Another woman calls Morgan “Little Miss Bacon Head” because when Morgan was on steroids she was eating pounds of bacon and she put a piece on her head and said that she had bacon fever, Charlene explained. Charlene said that she found a company in Florida that makes bacon jewelry for kids but sells in wholesale. She said that she called and spoke with the president of Cool Jewels and once he heard Morgan’s story, he donated sets of the jewelry to Morgan and Charlene. That jewelry is going to be sold, along with headbands, at Family Fun Day in Eastampton on Sept. 20 and the money will go toward helping Morgan.

People have set up a Meal Train for the Ackermans, have sent gift cards and donations and have also set up a bowling fundraiser on Sept. 13.

Gifts that children in the community have sent to Morgan. Photo courtesy of Charlene Ackerman.

“People in the community are doing things for us, people who don’t even know us, and I really appreciate it,” said Charlene.

The Bowling for Morgan Fundraiser is going to be held at Linden Lanes on Sept. 13 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Family Fun Day is being held at Buttonwood Park, Eastampton on Sept. 23 from noon to 4:30 p.m. There will be a table for Morgan at Family Fun Day where jewelry and headbands will be sold and donations can be made, along with food and activities for children. Donations to help the Ackermans with Morgan’s medical expenses can be made here.