BOW VALLEY – Lots of love is being shown for a local family whose baby girl is battling a rare form of cancer.
The Bow Valley community and beyond has raised more than $87,000 for the Butler family to offset costs while eight-month-old daughter Frankie is undergoing treatment at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary.
“People just want to do everything they can to help,” said Lisa Rosvold, an extended family member.
“I think the reason the GoFundMe [fundraiser] has been so successful is Chris and Amanda are wonderful, kick-ass people; they’re always there being a part of the community and helping out and I think this is the community coming back and helping them for everything they’ve done.”
Frankie started chemotherapy on Nov. 4 after being diagnosed last month with Atypical Teratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT), an uncommon and aggressive form of cancer.
According to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, "ATRT is a very difficult tumor to cure, and, unfortunately, the outcomes remain poor."
Doctors performed emergency brain surgery in October and removed a six centimetre long tumor from Frankie's cerebellum, located on the back lower part of the brain.
She will undergo three rounds of chemotherapy and doctors will reassess.
There’s optimism from the family that Frankie will be home in four to five weeks.
“She’s doing pretty good at that point [after her first round of chemotherapy],” said Rosvold. “There’s high hopes she’ll be home for Christmas.”
Frankie was born March 23 at Canmore Hospital, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading around the world.
Even as a young child, Frankie has had her share of adventures in the mountains in her front carrier.
Frankie’s parents, Amanda and Chris Butler, are longtime Canmore locals and former national cross-country ski team members. Amanda, last name formerly Ammar, is a two-time Winter Olympian and competed at the 2006 and 2014 games.
“These guys have hard work and dedication in their bones. We’re feeling hopeful Frankie has those genes, too,” said Rosvold.
Nordiq Canada, the national governing body for cross-country skiing, posted about the Butlers on its Facebook page: "Time for our Nordic family to pull together and support one of our own in any way that we can."
Members of the nordic ski community, such as Ivan Babikov, Robin McKeever and Kate Boyd, have shown support for Frankie and the Butlers through social media.
During this difficult time, the Butlers had been staying in Calgary at the Ronald McDonald House, but they are now staying in a rental close to the hospital.
Friends and family have stepped up and pulled together to start the GoFundMe page, which has had an “overwhelming” response and earned over $47,000 more than its original goal.
A Facebook page and website have also been created called Fight For Frankie. Initiatives have been set up such as a meal train for Amanda and Chris with food from Canmore, Banff and Airdrie being delivered to them until early next year.
Plus, Fight for Frankie buffs from Buff Canada and T-shirts will be on sale to further lighten the financial load.
“It’s really hard when there’s a sick kid and you don’t know how to help,” said Rosvold. “By making a donation, you’re letting them know you’re thinking of them and you’re helping alleviate maybe a financial stress because really that’s one of the stresses we can help with right now.”