Leah was born on June 3rd, 1996 in Burlington, Vermont, USA. When she was three she moved with her parents and older brother Eric to Gainesville, Florida. During the 5 years in Florida Leah went to preschool, kindergarten and part of her primary school. In Florida Leah learned to love the sun and water. Lifelong loves she would never lose. At 8 years of age her family moved to the Netherlands, to the village of Haren, near Groningen. In Haren she spent the most time of her life and she was happy here. She also died at her home in Haren and is buried here.
In March 2014, 2 months before her university entrance exam Leah had recurring health issues that needed further investigation. On May 2nd, one week before her exam and one month before her 18th birthday she got the diagnosis Non Hodgkin Lymphoma. During the summer she had 8 chemo's and in September she also underwent radiation. She had to cancel her travel plans with two friends for that summer but she did her exam and she passed it. Everything seemed to go well and in September, 3 weeks late, she moved to Leiden and started studying. During the fall she had some complaints that we all thought were effects of her treatment but they kept getting worrisome. And so in early November we learned that her lymphoma was in the brain. A complication that is very rare. She received more (high dose) chemo's and whole brain radiation but all to no avail. On May 9th 2015 our beautiful girl died.
Leah was a strong, down-to-earth and happy girl who always saw the positive side in things. She remained strong and positive until her very end. During her year of illness she never complained, did not really want to talk about how she was and never asked why. During her final months when she was well enough she enjoyed getting together with her friends, going to the movies, weekends away and day trips.
With the money she left her family wants to do something good and something that benefits young who happen to have cancer, just like her.
Leah' medical care during her illness was excellent and the doctors tried everything. And yet her family has experienced and seen that young adult cancer patients are a special group. First they don't have many fellow sufferers, their needs and interests often are different than their fellow sufferes on the hospital wards. Often they are students and not employees and their experience is therefore different. Leah, for example, has never been offered psychological support. We think some things can and need to be changed.