We Began our Mission 3 years ago. Our Mission of 'Helping Families & Funding Research'
It is our way of giving back to a community and region who so generously gave of themselves 
while the Fernandes Family endured the battle of their daughter's life. 
Each year we are constantly amazed at the out pouring of support the community continues to show and we hope at our 
4th Annual 'Leah Bear Fair' this will continue. 
As we continue our mission, we want to continue to share Leah's story
You may know the Fernandes family from Chartley Country Store in Norton and Rehoboth. Five year old Leah Fernandes “Leah Bear” is the daughter of Peter and Rhiannon Fernandes. Leah had been complaining of headaches. She immediately had an MRI which revealed that Leah had a tumor in the back of her brain. The tumor was removed on March 21st. Upon removal of the tumor, Leah was diagnosed with ...Medulloblastoma meaning the tumor she had removed was malignant and the cancer spread to the fluid that is in her brain and spinal column.

She spent longer than expected recuperating from the surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital. Finally she was able to come home for some much needed family time only to return to the hospital a few days later because of vomiting and headaches. As a result of the vomiting and headaches, Leah underwent another surgery on April 8th to place a shunt to help drain excess fluid to relieve pressure in her brain.

After an in-depth MRI following the shunt surgery, it revealed that the tumor had grown back, spread and multiplied. The tumor was creating pressure on her brain stem - which regulates breathing. This impaired Leah to breathe on her own resulting in her being hooked up to a respirator. She spent 2 weeks recovering in ICU.

Because surgery was not an option, doctors administered high doses of radiation and chemotherapy in hopes that the cancers cells would immediately start shrinking. Many doctors have said that they have never seen a tumor this aggressive. An MRI on April 30th (after completion of radiation and 1st round of chemotherapy) showed that Leah’s main tumor had shrunk by 90%!! We all thought Leah was on the path towards a full recovery.

Leah’s final MRI before the planned next round of chemo on July 6th revealed that cancer cells had continued to grow despite the treatments resulting in Neoplastic Meningitis. Leah’s chances for survival were slim but she kept fighting and always with a smile.

Leah’s pain and suffering ended on July 26, 2011 in the comfort of her home with her parents by her side.
 

Kate Suydan Tracy- Leah's story broke my heart on a daily basis. All I could think was this is so wrong, there is no way a beautiful 5yr old little girl should have to go through this! CANCER SUCKS! No family should have to endure the day in and day out battle they are fighting! I would look at my 5yr old daughter Madighan, and 3 yr old son Braedan nightly and think, this could be your battle to fight. Cancer does not discriminate, it does not care how old, or how young you are or how much pain it causes a family!

I can't explain why I became so angry and upset, all I know is when I received the news that Leah had lost her battle with cancer, I knew I had to do something. I knew our community needed to come together and celebrate Leah's life and bring awareness to this disease. It is my hope that no other child has to go through this! It is my hope that we are well on our way to Running for a Cure! 

 

 

 

          Sally Junkins-  I first met the Fernandes Family almost two decades ago when I started my first job at Chartley Country Store. 

Over the years, I’d run into them as I shopped in the stores or at friend’s gatherings in our small town of Norton. 

I even remember when Lukas & Leah were born because I worked with their Auntie Caroline.  We compared pictures and funny stories of the kids. 

Having a daughter who is 6 ½ and hearing the news of Leah’s long road to recovery was a true reminder of life being too short.  Each one of us has lost loved ones to cancer, have loved ones recently diagnosed and some of us are fortunate to know cancer survivors.  I feel it’s especially heart breaking to hear a story like Leah’s.  A precious girl who was perfectly healthy and suddenly her family received horrific news of a brain tumor being the cause of her sudden headaches and waking up sick.    

 

Now being the Mommy of two children and fellow Auntie, I felt like so many others feel, I have to do something!  We were in Disney, when I was reading Caroline’s latest update on Leah having developed neoplastic meningitis.  The thought of their family not being able to do another family vacation, brought me to tears.  Upon returning back to the daily grind, it was Tuesday, July 26th, when Katie came rushing over to my cube to give me the sad news of Leah’s life being cut way too short.  We could not & cannot fathom the pain and suffering her loved ones were & are feeling.  They were so brave in sharing their updates and feelings with us all.  The work day was somber and filled with constant thoughts of “having to do something”.  It’s been riveting to see and read of all the events their friends and the community have held. 

 I’m hoping the Leah Fernandes Memorial 5K Run/Walk  is an annual event to remember Leah and to share her story with others. 

 

 

 

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