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Baby girl with childhood leukemia is beating the odds

The acute lymphoblastic leukemia is in remission, but Madison Charland is still far from being out of the woods

BIDDEFORD, Maine — A baby girl battling an aggressive form of cancer continues to amaze doctors with her progress. 

Madison Charland from Biddeford was less than a year old when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which affects the white blood cells.

While doctors are much more optimistic about Madison's long-term prognosis, she is still far from being out of the woods.  After spending nearly three months of her life in the pediatric cancer ward at Barbara Bush Hospital, the 16-month-old is finally home. 

The cancer is now in remission after multiple rounds of chemotherapy, which caused her hair to fall out, the only visible sign of the toll on her little body. Madison's father calls her his hero.

"She has gone through a lot more in her 16 months of life than I have in my 43 years of life," Eric Charland said.

Madison takes oral chemotherapy medicine every night. She still receives treatment in an outpatient clinic and there are weekly blood checks for any cancerous cells. Madison also receives physical and occupational therapy to help her catch up on milestones, but words are starting to come between the countless waves and the blowing of kisses.

"She is getting stronger every day and the therapy is helping. We are waiting for speech therapy to come into work with her," Sherri Charland, Madison's mom, said.

Patrick Dempsey is in Maine for the 2021 Global Dempsey Challenge this weekend, which raises money for cancer patients and their caregivers.  He sent a special video message to the family. 

RELATED: Register for the global Dempsey Challenge 2021

"Sherri, Eric Madison, how are you? We are here for you, let us know how we can help and support. We are thinking of you all the best big hug and kiss" Dempsey said.

"I was speechless, and I have always liked him," Sherri said.

"His Dempsey Challenge is this weekend... just for him to take 10 seconds out of life that meant a lot," Eric said.

An outpouring of support and donations from the community are coming in to help Madison's family with medical expenses. This Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m. a benefit pancake breakfast will be held at the Biddeford, Saco Elks Lodge with all the proceeds going to Madison's medical costs.

 A GoFundMe has also raised more than $46,000, with strangers from across the country sending in donations. The hope is Madison will reach the "maintenance" phase in January, which could mean only monthly treatments for another year and a half.

But her parents say they won't let their guard down any time soon. They plan to fight to keep the cancer in remission for the rest of her life. 

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