Community comes through for family of cancer-stricken girl

BOTHELL, Wash. - Sometimes all it takes is a community, a little planning - and a child - to make a difference.

In Bothell on Saturday, residents helped a family by honoring an 8-year-old girl who died last month after a three-year battle with cancer.

The saying goes that "it takes a village to raise a child." And at Crystal Srings Elementary School, one village was out in force for little Mikayla Bassett, holding a rummage sale to help her family.

"There were probably 30 people at the door," says Mikayla's teacher, Jane Weiss.

But to understand what it means for her family - you have to understand Mikayla. She was only five years old when she first became sick with acute myeloid leukemia.

Mikayla was diagnosed with cancer in July 2009 while her family was living in Kansas City, Mo.

After a bone marrow transplant from her younger brother two years later, Mikayla was declared cancer free. But, doctors warned her parents that if the disease came back they would not have the resources available to treat her.

So, with just $500, the Bassetts drove across the country to Bothell where they would be closer to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and have better treatment options.

For one blissful year, Mikayla was healthy and thriving in the second grade at Crystal Springs Elementary School.

Then in June 2012, her cancer returned.

Mikayla received chemotherapy throughout the summer in preparation for another bone marrow transplant. But before that could happen, her heart began to shut down. Doctors believed she would only survive a few days, but Mikayla proved them wrong, living five more months.

The disease was so devastating and expensive that her family of five moved into the Ronald McDonald House. Mikayla's mom Realeene says it's where they stayed until Jan. 26, when cancer proved too much.

"I was there from the day she was born to the day she took her last breath," she says.

In the weeks that followed, Mikayla's family had to find another place to live. So the community planned a rummage sale to help the Bassetts move into an adequate home.

Donations spilled from the gym, down the breezeway, into the basketball court. Volunteers took dollar bills - and even $100 bills - with high hopes of raising $3,000.

"But we raised that already in the first hour," says Weiss. "It's way more than we had any picture of in our heads."

MIkayla's mom says all this is reassurance her young daughter made an impression on this world during her short life.

"When I close my eyes, all I see is her smile. When I open my eyes I see her smiling," she says.

As of this weekend, the Bassetts have found and reserved a rental home in the Crystal Springs area. They plan to give back to the community someday - because it's what Mikayla would have wanted.