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Whitestone community raises funds online for sick 2-year-old

Photos courtesy of Michaela Giragosian

The Whitestone community has come together in a big way to raise funds for the family of a toddler with a rare form of cancer.

Two-year-old Lola Rose Giragosian of Whitestone was found to have a cancerous mass at the bottom of her skull after weeks of usually sluggish behavior culminating in a trip to the emergency room in February. The tumor had been pushing down on her spine, making her legs feel very weak and causing a great deal of pain to the little girl.

Testing showed that Giragosian was suffering from a chordoma, a rare type of cancerous tumor that can occur anywhere along the spine, from the base of the skull to the tailbone. According the National Library of Medicine, chordomas are so rare that they affect only one in a million people, and comprise fewer than 1 percent of tumors affecting the brain and spinal cord.

“It was just my worst nightmare. We’re over here trying to be happy about having another baby and you’re hit with this bomb,” said Lola Rose’s mother, Michaela Giragosian, who was then eight to nine months pregnant with the family’s second child. “We didn’t know how to react.”

Lola Rose’s parents found that they would need to take daily trips back and forth to the doctor’s office in Manhattan to deal with her diagnosis, and juggle this responsibility with the care of newborn Lucy, who was born shortly after her older sister’s health problems began.

Lola Rose’s mother said that although many new parents find it stressful to have young children, she and her husband treasure time when their family can finally be under the same roof experiencing their children’s early years and growing pains.

“We love the screaming and crying,” Michaela Giragosian said. “Parents can’t take that sometimes, but when we hear both of them screaming [together], we embrace those moments.”

In an effort to help with the family’s medical bills, household bills and traveling costs, a cousin set up an account with Gofundme.com, a crowdfunding site where donations can be solicited to raise large amounts of cash in a short time. The money raised for Lola will also cover a trip to Disney World for the family, since the little girl always has a smile when she sees her favorite character, Minnie Mouse.

To date, the GoFundMe account for Lola Rose has only been active for two days and has already raised more than $4,200 from 69 donors, although it is still short of its $20,000 goal. Online publicity and support by local community groups are largely to thank for the speedy fundraising, with the civic group We Love Whitestone continuously sharing information about the campaign through multiple media platforms.

Michaela Giragosian, who was born and raised in Whitestone, said that the outpouring of support from people in her community was overwhelming, and that she thanked the community for their generosity, support and prayers.

“As a parent sometimes you think you can do things on your own, and when people step in and see that you need help and be so supportive it’s an amazing thing,” said Giragosian, who hopes little Lola will be well enough to go on her Disney adventure by the end of 2015.

To donate funds for Lola Rose’s GoFundMe account online, click here.

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