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Sick 3-year-old needs community’s help

  • Indira Wiles, 3, of Turners Falls is in a fight for her life. The little girl has leukemia and is currently being treated. A local group will hold a golf tournament on Aug. 16 to raise money to help with her medical expenses.<br/>(Submitted photo)

    Indira Wiles, 3, of Turners Falls is in a fight for her life. The little girl has leukemia and is currently being treated. A local group will hold a golf tournament on Aug. 16 to raise money to help with her medical expenses.
    (Submitted photo) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Indira Wiles, 3, of Turners Falls is in a fight for her life. The little girl has leukemia and is currently being treated. A local group will hold a golf tournament on Aug. 16 to raise money to help with her medical expenses.<br/>(Submitted photo)

    Indira Wiles, 3, of Turners Falls is in a fight for her life. The little girl has leukemia and is currently being treated. A local group will hold a golf tournament on Aug. 16 to raise money to help with her medical expenses.
    (Submitted photo) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Indira Wiles, 3, of Turners Falls is in a fight for her life. The little girl has leukemia and is currently being treated. A local group will hold a golf tournament on Aug. 16 to raise money to help with her medical expenses.<br/>(Submitted photo)
  • Indira Wiles, 3, of Turners Falls is in a fight for her life. The little girl has leukemia and is currently being treated. A local group will hold a golf tournament on Aug. 16 to raise money to help with her medical expenses.<br/>(Submitted photo)

TURNERS FALLS — Three-year-old Indira Wiles went with her family on March 22 to a wedding reception where she “danced the night away,” her mother recalls.

Just 12 hours later, the 32-pound youngster with hazel eyes could barely get out of bed.

“Until then, there were no signs of anything being wrong,” said her mother, Kari Ann Wiles, who has four other children, including Indira’s twin brother, Jonah. “We woke up Sunday morning and she was lethargic, which was unusual for her. She just seemed off.”

Wiles said her oldest daughter, 11-year-old Maralee Wiles, had helped change her sister a few days before and noticed a light rash on her torso.

“We didn’t think much of it, because the kids are always getting rashes and other things that kids get,” said Wiles. “It didn’t seem bad.”

Wiles took her daughter to the doctor that Monday to check her out.

“I figured I’d show him the rash while we were at it,” she said.

“He took one look at her and said we needed to get to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. Everything happened so fast, we didn’t have time to be scared or worried.”

The rash was petechia, a reddish pinpoint rash ... and a symptom of something much more serious.

“It was all over her chest and belly,” she said. “They were ready to admit her when we got there and started doing tests immediately. I have to say we were certainly a little confused.”

Wiles said it wasn’t long before a doctor entered the room where she and her husband Frank were waiting, to tell them their daughter had leukemia.

“Just like that,” she said. “We were in shock.”

Wiles said that’s how fast it can happen — one day your child is playing like she always does and the next she’s very, very sick.

Wiles said the next thing she knew, she and her husband were meeting nonstop with doctors and oncologists.

“Still in shock, it didn’t hit home until they told us she needed a transfusion and to start chemotherapy,” said Wiles.

That’s what the quiet, well-behaved 3-year-old has to look forward to over the next two years — treatments and maintenance, said Wiles.

“She’s been a little trouper,” said Wiles. “We look to her for strength.”

She said the rest of the children, ages 3 to 11, know their sister is “very sick,” but don’t know just how sick.

“We believe we’re going to get through this,” said Wiles. “We’ve had so much support and we have a good team working with Indira.”

She said her youngest daughter also understands that she’s sick, but doesn’t know to what extent.

Wiles said the community, especially her family’s church community, has been wonderful. “They’ve been cooking meals for us and watching the kids and taking them to and from school and their activities,” she said.

“We’re Christians and we have a lot of faith, so we’re hanging in there,” she said.

Wiles said she and her husband expect their daughter to make a full recovery. “All the signs are there for one,” she said.

But, it’s going to be a long road. Indira has been in treatment for five months and has another two years to go.

“She’s a toughy,” said her mom. “She’s been on steroids, which are horrible, and chemo and has tolerated it all. The chemo literally poisons her while it poisons the cancer and she just keeps going.”

Wiles said Indira’s twin brother has been especially nice to her lately. “He senses something’s wrong,” she said.

Indira hasn’t lost her hair completely, but her mother said there were a lot of bald spots, so she ended up cutting her daughter’s long blond hair short.

“God tests you,” said Wiles. “This is the most difficult test we’ve ever endured.”

She said the downside, besides the obvious, is that she and the rest of her family will never again be able to live life as they had.

“Now, every bruise, every rash, every cough, will be a little more scary,” she said. “We won’t take anything for granted.”

Help for medical expenses

While the family fights , a group from town has decided to hold a benefit golf tournament to help the family with some of its medical expenses.

Chet Czernich, Burt White and James Koldis, all board members at Thomas Memorial Golf and Country Club in Montague City, said the tournament will be held Aug. 16, with a rain date of Aug. 17. There will be a shotgun start at 9 a.m.

The organizers said the board holds a benefit tournament each year to help a local family in need.

The cost is $65 per person for the four-person scramble. Hotdogs will be served on the course and golf carts are included in the price. There will be cash prizes and proceeds will go to the Wiles family.

For more information or to register for the tournament, call Czernich at 413-659-3061 or TMGCC at 413-863-8003. Also email at: tmgcc@aol.com.

If you would like to make a donation to the Wiles family to help with Indira’s medical expenses, send a check to: TMGCC for Indira Wiles, P.O. Box 16, Turners Falls, MA 01376.

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