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Community rallies for young Addison Stamp

Benefit is Friday night as part of Belle Plaine homecoming festivities

By JUDY SCHLESSELMAN, Star Press Union reporter

Two-year-old Addison Stamp of Belle Plaine, shown with her parents Josh and Jessica, is undergoing chemotherapy treatments to shrink a non-cancerous tumor behind her right eye. Proceeds from Friday’s Homecoming supper at Belle Plaine’s First Lutheran Church will help the family with Addison’s medical expenses.

Small towns like to help their own in times of need, and Belle Plaine is no exception.

The community rallied this summer to raise money for Josh and Jessica Stamp as they deal with medical and other expenses related to their 2-year-old daughter’s nervous system disorder.

Softball players sold t-shirts, a community cookbook was printed and a fund-raiser at the Belle Plaine Country Club drew hundreds eager to help.

Another benefit for the girl and her parents is planned in Belle Plaine this Friday, Oct. 9, as First Lutheran Church hosts its 30th annual Homecoming supper.

Doctors think Addison has neurofibromatosis, a neurological disorder that causes tumors to form on nerves anywhere in the body.  It can also affect the development of bones and skin.

Neurofibromatosis is usually inherited and affects one in every 3,000 to 4,000 births. About half of the new cases, however, are not inherited. Genetic testing showed that Josh and Jessica do not have the disorder.

After taking Addison to an eye doctor for what they thought was lazy eye, the Stamps were shocked when an MRI late last year showed a non-cancerous tumor growing behind their daughter’s right eye. Other common symptoms of the disorder, including brown-colored birthmarks and a growth on Addison’s back, led doctors to their diagnosis.

Addison’s non-operable tumor was causing a loss of vision, and chemotherapy is the only option to shrink it. Doctors hope the treatments that began last November will stabilize the tumor and stop any further loss of vision. The chemo is not expected to completely eliminate the tumor.

Addison is on a four-week on, two-week off cycle of chemotherapy at the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital in Iowa City, but she has missed a few treatments because of fevers.

There is no cure for Addison. She will need yearly MRIs her entire life to watch for the growth of new tumors.

While she is handling the chemo well, Addison had a 12-day hospital stay and a bout with chicken pox since the July fundraiser, Jessica said.

Every fever sends the family to the hospital for at least three days while doctors determine if the cause is serious. The port in Addison’s chest that delivers chemo drugs invites infection and is a major concern.

Jessica takes time off from her job at MidWestOne Bank in Belle Plaine when Addison is hospitalized and Josh, an employee at Whirlpool in Amana, joins them overnight.

“Some nights I would come back to Belle Plaine just long enough to get clothes, then go back,” Jessica said of Addison’s most recent hospitalization. “I usually sleep in the bed with her and Josh sleeps on the couch.”

Addison’s bout last month with chicken pox could have been much worse, and for that her parents are thankful. Jessica said Addison was a little cranky for just one night and had only a few spots and no fever.

The flu season and its potential for more hospitalizations is now a concern for the family. Addison goes to daycare while her parents work and will stay home if other children there come down with the flu, Jessica said.

Barring any other delays, Addison’s chemo treatments will be complete in February. She will then have an MRI to determine the status of the tumor behind her eye and another MRI three months later. If everything looks good, the port will be removed and Addison will no longer have to be hospitalized every time she runs a fever.

As this weekend’s fundraiser approaches, the Stamps continue to be astounded at the generosity of their hometown.

“It’s so overwhelming. You just feel so blessed. I’m just amazed at this town and how good everybody’s been,” Jessica said.

This Friday’s Homecoming supper will be held in First Lutheran Church’s Family Life Center from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Cost is a free will donation with proceeds going to the Stamp family. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Chapter 31120 will provide supplemental funds.

Barbecue pork sandwiches, baked beans, salads, chips, pies and beverages are on the menu. Carryouts will be available.


UPDATED October 7, 2009 2:30 PM

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