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West Michigan girl's cancer journey comes full circle amid COVID-19

Her fight with leukemia ends where it began: in isolation.

IONIA COUNTY, Mich — There's a literary device that's used often in all kinds of writing, including news. Essentially, ending a story where it began, or coming full circle. One young girl here in West Michigan is a living example of that. 

Eleven-year-old Dalilah Tubergen just finished two years of leukemia treatments. A process that began in isolation is now ending the same way.

"When Dalilah was diagnosed that January, she spend nine days at the hospital. And during that time, her counts got pretty low," said her mom Stephanie. "So, eventually we had to tell visitors they couldn't visit the hospital. And at one point, she wasn't allowed to leave her room."

Dalilah often had to FaceTime with friends instead of getting together.  

"Sometimes, someone would ask me to spend the night.  But I can't because I have to go home and take my medicine," Dalilah said. 

She'd often times FaceTime into school, and her chemo port was an inconvenience for her dancing.

By her and her family's own admission, her fight was textbook. Dalilah's bad days were better than others. But, they were still marking every occasion.

"One year in treatment, two years in treatment. One year from being done.  Every date you could make an event, we did it," Stephanie said.

Which brings us to this date on this week. Her last treatment is past, and she had her last round of medicine on Monday. But, she can't have her friends over. Because of COVID-19, she's back in isolation.

"We're back where we started. Cut off. Except it's everyone, not just our family," said Stephanie.

Except for the parade organized by the Ionia Purple Committee, which brought a flurry of excitement outside their home briefly. 

"Just so she can see how happy the whole town is that she made it through this," Stephanie said. 

Dalilah says she's handling quarantine just like everyone else. She's doing her homework, FaceTiming and coping with the boredom.

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