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Heartbreaking homecoming for local cancer patient

Published: Nov. 1, 2015 at 11:46 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2015 at 11:58 PM EST
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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A Chesterfield family is facing a difficult decision, leaving the hospital to bring their daughter home after doctors were unable to find a cure for her cancer.

The medical journey began back in the spring of 2015, when the Vandermarks noticed a rash on their 4-year-old-daughter, Virginia Rose. It led to a diagnosis of high risk acute Myeloid Leukemia. For several months, Virginia Rose called Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital home. During that time, her dad would travel back and forth from Chesterfield to Memphis while her mom stayed with her in Tennessee.

After months of treatment at the hospital and exhausting every medical option, doctors couldn't get rid of her cancer. "They couldn't get her into remission, the chemo didn't work. She ended up getting a fungal infection and had to take out half of her left lung. Then she had heart failure and is on strong medication," Jonathon Vandermark, Virginia's dad, explained. He added Virginia's brother was a perfect match for a donor. However, the doctors didn't believe that she would make it through the bone marrow transplant. If she did, there was a chance the cancer could come right back.

The family made a difficult decision to bring Virginia home to focus on family and make memories together. Family members gathered at the Richmond International Airport on Sunday, anxiously awaiting Virginia's arrival. Her dad focused on the arrival gate, running towards his wife and daughter when they came into sight. It is a bittersweet homecoming. "It's a mix of emotions. We're super excited to have her home. Unfortunately, she's home a little sooner than we expected," Vandermark said, referring to the lack of medical cure.

When community members heard that Virginia was coming home, they jumped into action to get the home ready for her return. Vandermark said the family's church replaced the roof after finding holes in it. He also pointed out Window World of Richmond put in new windows to keep the air-flow clean and temperature control better for Virginia.

Neighbors and family are also planting 1,000 daffodils for her to bloom in the spring.

There isn't a known medical cure for Virginia's cancer. Doctors expect her to survive a few months to a year.

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