ALEXANDRIA BAY — To understand why family, friends and fans have dubbed Natalie Grace Gondek “Natalie the Brave” one needs only to look at some of the things she has endured since March.
Relatives say her challenges have included:
Numerous blood and platelet infusions, two major surgeries, a one-month hospitalization due to a severe infection, high doses of chemotherapy with nasty side effects, numerous clinic appointments and sores throughout her mouth and digestive system.
Natalie was born in April 2017 to Marci L. and Matthew P. Gondek of Clayton. She was diagnosed with “high-risk B-cell” acute lymphoblastic leukemia in late March, two weeks after Marci gave birth to son Kyler M.
Natalie spent her second birthday in the hospital. Marci and Matthew have another child, Chase, age 9.
Michelle Lashomb is twin sister to Mrs. Gondek and is Natalie’s aunt.
“Our hearts were broken when we were told Natalie needed further testing as her blood counts suggested leukemia,” Ms. Lashomb said, recalling the March 28 diagnosis.
A benefit spaghetti dinner to help Natalie’s family with medical costs will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 19 at Cavallario’s Steak House, 26 Church St., Alexandria Bay.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children and may be purchased at River Day Spa & Salon, 342 Riverside Drive, Clayton, and Cavallario’s Steak House. Tickets will also be sold at the door.
“This event is kid friendly, so we are asking guests to please bring their children,” Ms. Lashomb said. “We will have lots of activities for the them, including a visit from Elmo.”
The event will also include a silent auction and a basket raffle.
“We were completely overwhelmed when we were given Natalie’s intense treatment plan,” Ms. Lashomb said. “She would be undergoing nine months of intense treatment and would be receiving chemotherapy both as an inpatient, outpatient and at home. She then would continue treatment for two and a half more years.”
Ms. Lashomb said Natalie is now seen as an outpatient twice a week. She is being treated at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, Syracuse.
“She continues to stay strong, but there are many days where she is so sick from her treatments,” Ms. Lashomb said. “She continues to fight and will always be our Natalie the Brave!”