On February 28, 10-year-old Brazil resident Desiray Fields, daugther of Steve Fields and Christina Lawson, went with her father to have swelling in her throat evaluated. Steve believed his daughter had caught a bad case of strep throat. The ensuing tests, however, told a different story, which left Desiray and her family "shocked and speechless."
Desiray Fields was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia, in which her T-cells, which are normally used to attack virus-infected cells become malignant. The ailment also caused swelling in her kidney and liver.
"I was just shocked," Steve said when he was given the diagnosis. "(Desiray) and I both just flipped out and started crying. I just didn't know what to say."
Since the diagnosis, Fields has been forced to drive Desiray to Clarian North at Riley Hospital, Indianapolis, for chemotherapy treatments every Tuesday.
In an effort to help the family with mounting medical expenses, the Fraternal Order of Eagles, 122 E. National Ave., Brazil, have put together a benefit for Desiray, to be conducted Saturday, April 3, at the lodge.
Steve, who is a member of the organization, said he knew the organization had put together fund raisers in similar situations in the past, and hoped they would be interested in helping give aide to his daughter. Luckily for the family, the event was quickly organized.
"I feel like a 10-year-old little girl needs all the help she can get for a chance to live a full life," Eagles President David Miller said.
The event will feature raffles, bake sales, live and silent auctions and a dinner consisting of various deep-fried foods, ranging from chicken wings to frog legs. There will also be live entertainment from country/rock groups Damn Neighbors, Big Dead Bird and Jason Wendell.
The donation process has already begun, as members of the Eagles organization have taken up collections at various locations all over town, such as Wal-Mart. Steve said the process of receiving charitable donations took awhile to get adjusted to, but he believes it is a crucial step in helping his daughter make a full recovery.
"This has become a big turning point in my life," Fields said. "I'm not used to getting any help, but I know it's needed."
Luckily for the Fields family, the fundraising event hasn't been the only bit of good news they've received since the leukemia discovery. Doctors told the family if Desiray receives steady treatment over the next two-and-a-half years, her chances of recovery run around 85 percent.
"That made us feel a lot better," Fields said about hearing of the high recovery rate.
Fields said he and his entire family, which also includes younger daughters Savannah, 8, Jacklyn, 5 and MaKalya, 4, are approaching their current situation with optimism Desiray will be able to make a full recovery. While Steve seemed to maintain a certain degree of discomfort about having his family put into the spotlight, he said his feelings meant little, and his sole focus was to do whatever would help his daughter make a full recovery.
"This is all for (Desiray)," Fields said. "I'll do whatever it takes to make her happy. As long as she's happy, I'm happy."
The Benefit for Desiray Fields will run from 3-9 p.m., Saturday, April 3, at the Eagles Lodge. The Damn Neighbors performance will then run from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Donations will still be accepted during the performance. Dinner will be served throughout the festivities.
For further information, call the Eagles Lodge at 448-8468.