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New Haven helps student in her leukemia fight

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New Haven helps student in her leukemia fight

Allie Burrows-Guzman and her family receive a donation from the New Haven School Community Club on Thursday. The 8-year-old local girl and student in Neela DuBois' third-grade class is joined by he...

VINCE REMBULAT/The Bulletin


POSTED January 16, 2009 1:14 a.m.
Allie Burrows-Guzman was anxious to get to school.

It had been months since the third-grade student at New Haven School had been around her classmates.

“We were all excited that Allie was coming,” said teacher Neela DuBois.

On Sept. 3, Burrows-Guzman was diagnosed with leukemia. Ron and Belinda Guzman, her parents, knew something was wrong with their daughter based on her weakened condition.

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow, and is characterized by an abnormal proliferation of blood cells, usually white blood cells.

At New Haven, youngsters were curious as to how their classmate contacted the disease.

“Nobody knows,” responded Allie’s mother, Belinda Guzman. “But don’t worry, it’s not contagious.”

Yet in a room full of students, she had to be extremely careful about exposing her daughter to any illnesses.

Allie Burrows-Guzman has been receiving treatments for leukemia at Children’s Hospital in Oakland. For every blood drawn, shot taken, chemotherapy, and even loss of hair due to the treatment, she received a specially marked color bead to go along with her “Bead of Courage.”

Her strand has grown to 10 feet long. “Allie has lots and lots of beads,” Belinda Guzman said.

As a show of support, Allie’s brother, Harley, 6, also chose to sport an extremely short haircut.

Meanwhile, the New Haven Community Club under the leadership of co-presidents Randi Fowzer and Jenny Gomes, and vice president Laurie Burns, put out collection jars in each of the classrooms as a way of helping out the family back in October.

“We were amazed at the generosity, especially during these tough economic times,” Gomes said.

All told, they collected $1,650 in change, with hopes of presenting the money to the family. But the only drawback was that Allie experienced some setbacks, forcing the group to reschedule its donation presentation three times in recent months.

On Thursday, the Guzman — included were Allie and her parents Ron and Belinda, older sister Kristina, and brother Harley — were back at New Haven. The Community Club presented the family with the $1,600 donation and Allie with $50 in two rolls of dollar coins.

“That’s money for her to use on those trips to Oakland,” said Burns.

According to her folks, Allie Burrows-Guzman is on the road to recovery, sporting a pink knit-cap to conceal her recent hair loss. But not loss to her classmates was Allie’s familiar freckles and big smile.

“We missed her,” said classmate and friend Sarah Cohoon.

The same can be said of Allie, who is looking forward to rejoining her class come next school year. She’s been receiving home-school instructions since her illness.

The family remains optimistic about Allie making a full recovery. Ron Guzman even remarked that the Community Club contribution could go towards his daughter’s college fund.
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