Family comes together to celebrate Mia Calnan’s victories over cancer
Hearing a diagnosis of cancer is life-altering. It is also life-changing to hear the words cancer-free.
But what does a person do if diagnosed with cancer for a second time and then receive the news once again they are cancer-free?
The answer is to celebrate, and that is just what soon-to-be 12-year-old Mia Calnan did Thursday night.
To mark her upcoming birthday, and to celebrate both her diagnosis and her aunt Heather Calnan’s approaching wedding, the family hosted a party at Duff Green Mansion.
Mia is the daughter of former Vicksburg resident Will Calnan and his wife, Christina Calnan, and the granddaughter of Vicksburg residents Mike and Karen Calnan.
In 2011, when Mia was just 2, Karen said her granddaughter was diagnosed with leukemia. She was taken to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Va., and received chemotherapy until Jan. 12, 2012, at which time she was declared cancer-free.
“Then the unthinkable happened,” Karen said. “After being cancer-free for over five years, the cancer came back with a vengeance on Christmas Eve 2014. It attacked her eyes, brain and spine.”
Mia went through chemo and radiation treatments, and during her time at the children’s hospital in Virginia, she became blind for two months.
The family took Mia to Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center in Durham, N.C. where she received a bone marrow transplant from placenta cells.
“She had to stay in isolation for 100 days,” Karen said. In May 2017 Mia was once again declared cancer-free.
To honor Mia’s fight and determination, and to celebrate her being cancer free, Mayor George Flaggs Jr., with the support of Jacqueline Walker, proclaimed Oct. 10, 2017 “Mia Isabella Calnan Day” in the city of Vicksburg.
Karen said the proclamation was not the only time Vicksburg rallied around Mia.
A pancake supper and silent auction was held in April 2016 at the Knights of Columbus to help fund medical bills and travel expenses associated with Mia’s ongoing cancer treatments.
The Calnan family attends St. Michael Catholic Church, and it was Mia’s aunt Heather who had approached the Knights of Columbus about hosting the fundraiser.
“We got a lot of donations that night, even from many who could not attend,” Mike said.
Will and Christina are both veterans who served in the U.S. Navy. Will was a member of the Navy SEALs, while Christiana served as a hospital corpsman at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va.
Karen said it meant so much to her family to receive such huge support from the Vicksburg community, which helped the family get through some of the darkest days in Mia’s fights against cancer.
“Our family is truly grateful for all of the wonderful support of our Vicksburg community and the city of Vicksburg for caring about Mia,” Karen said.