Jennifer Lawrence's family helping young leukemia patient - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Jennifer Lawrence's family helping young leukemia patient

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The community has rallied around a young Louisville girl diagnosed with leukemia at only six months old. You may remember thousands of people showed up at a bone-marrow drive in January to see if they might be a match for a transplant.

Now Hadley Mercer's family shares how she's doing after undergoing what they hoped would be life-saving surgery and what actress Jennifer Lawrence and her family are doing to help.

Hadley recently celebrated her first birthday, but not the way any child should. She had her birthday cake in a hospital room with her family, including her two older sisters.

"It's sad because you realize all the people in the hospital and she is one of them and it's said," said Hadley's sister, Maddie.

Molly says she and Maddie brought presents to cheer their sister up.

"We got her a Minnie Mouse airplane and princess balls -- she loves balls," Molly said.

Hadley is still in the hospital -- and has been for six months.

"That was tough, her first birthday," said Hadley's father, Brad. Christmas was tough too. Santa came to Kosair when we were there and that was the first time your child sees Santa -- in the cancer ward in the hospital.

After treatment at Kosair Children's Hospital, Hadley moved to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital. It has been a long, difficult road caring for her there, and her sisters here in Louisville.

The Mercers switch off every few days so one of them is in Cincinnati, and one in Louisville at all times.

"The drive to get our family back together is what keeps me going every day," said Ashlie.

Hadley has undergone 20 spinal taps and chemotherapy treatment for months to battle her aggressive cancer.

"It's literally -- its awful," Ashlie said. "It basically burned her skin from the inside out."

But there is finally reason to smile -- Hadley has turned a corner. She received a bone marrow transplant in April, and the family has learned the chemo and transplant worked.

"She's in remission," Ashlie said. "Completely cancer free."

There have been other bright spots along the way. In December, actress Jennifer Lawrence, a family friend, visited Hadley and other children being treated at Kosair.

"She (Jennifer) was really nice," Ashlie said. "She had to put on a gown and mask and she came in and saw Hadley and gave her a signed poster. It will be cool when Hadley is older."

Ben Lawrence, Jennifer's brother, says visiting Hadley and the other sick children at Kosair is not unusual. "She's always had a soft spot for children, and especially sick children, so that was kind of what led to her going down there."

Ben hopes to do more than lift spirits. He's helping to organize a block party through the company he co-owns, Louisville Geek, along with several other businesses. The money raised will help the Mercers pay their astronomical medical bills.

"All of our business partners at Louisville Geek, we all have kids," Ben said. "And to see them go through what they're going through with Hadley and the other two girls really hit home with everyone, and we made a pact that we wanted to do whatever we could to help the family out."

Ben says they expect one item up for auction to be especially popular: a trip to a private island in Belize arranged by the Oscar-winning actress, an island she herself has visited.

"She actually got that (trip) in her Oscar swag bag a few years ago and ended up going down there and developing a relationship with the guy who owns the island and it's heaven on earth," Ben said.

Jennifer ended up taking the trip, and wrote a note to the island's owner, who was so impressed they formed a friendship, and he agreed to donate a trip for the auction.

Even though Hadley can't be at the bock party, her family hopes to attend, wearing constant reminders of her battle -- bright orange bracelets to support Team Hadley.

"I wear it every day," Maddie said. "I do not take it off, even in the shower."

It has been a long road and we have a ways to go but I really do want people to know what a trooper she has been, she's been through so much," said Ashlie.

Ben says the help from friends and family has been invaluable.

"The support system we have is unbelievable," Ben said. "You would not have a chance at this without it."

Hadley is still in the hospital being treated for complications from the transplant.

Money raised at the block party this Saturday, June 21, will be used to help pay the family's medical bills.

Actress Jennifer Lawrence has also donated signed memorabilia from The Hunger Games and American Hustle for the block party.

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